FIA probes ‘prohibited’ funds used by PTI

Our Correspondent
Ousted prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures as he travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan May 26, 2022. — Reuters
Ousted prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures as he travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan May 26, 2022. — Reuters
  • FIA forms committee to probe PTI's prohibited funding.
  • Four employees named in ECP ruling deny operating accounts.
  • FIA notices challenged in IHC.

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday launched a formal countrywide investigation into the utilisation of funds from “prohibited” sources by PTI after an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruling that the party secured illegal donations.

A five-member monitoring team was constituted in this regard to supervise inquiries across Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Quetta. The team is headed by Muhammad Athar Waheed.

The FIA launched the investigation on a letter written by Akbar S Babar, requesting a probe against the PTI for receiving funds through accounts opened in the name of junior employees.

Akbar S Babar formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI on Wednesday.

Babar told the FIA that the PTI’s financial board in 2011 illegally authorised four employees of the party’s central secretariat to collect donations in their personal accounts from within Pakistan and abroad.

A sum of Rs11.104 million was deposited in the accounts of the PTI employees which was beyond their known sources of income, Babar said in his letter.

He wrote that the funds were received through the accounts of employees Tahir Iqbal, Muhammad Nauman Afzal, Muhammad Arshad, and Muhammad Rafiq.

Acting on this letter and the ECP ruling on this case, the FIA is probing the utilisation of funds from 13 undeclared accounts and has issued notices to the account holders.

Sources close to these developments say the FIA also wants to probe whether there are unknown accounts, besides looking into sources of funding in these accounts, how much funds were sent through them and whether funds were transferred in accordance with the laws of host countries.

Preliminary stage

The PTI employees told the FIA in their preliminary interviews that they were unaware of how accounts in their names were being used by the party.

Four employees, including Muhammad Rafiq, Tahir Iqbal and Muhammad Arshad, named in the ECP ruling in the Akbar Sher Babar vs the PTI case were called in on Friday for preliminary interviews.

The FIA will also issue notices to PTI’s Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed in Lahore and Asad Qaiser in Peshawar on August 6 (today) to appear by August 10.

In his statement to the FIA, Muhammad Arshad said he had no knowledge of who was sending the funding and from where.

Tahir Iqbal told the FIA that the amount in the accounts was handed over in cash or through a cheque to PTI’s finance manager while Muhammad Rafiq told the FIA that he did not know where the money was spent and for what purpose. “The PTI’s Finance Department used to take a blank cheque signed by me,” he said.

The employees being investigated include PTI chief Imran Khan’s personal secretary and PTI’s general manager of finance.

FIA notices challenged in IHC

The four employees of the PTI’s central secretariat have challenged the FIA notices in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard their petition.

Counsel for the petitioners, Muhammad Arshad, Muhammad Rafique, Noman Afzal and Tahir Iqbal, stated that an FIA inspector issued notices in haste at midnight after the interior minister’s press conference. The counsel requested the court to dismiss the notices and restrain the FIA from acting against the petitioners. Summoning the inspector on August 10, the IHC issued notices to the respondents.