Sunday Aug 07, 2022
ISLAMABAD: In a major development in the prohibited funding case against PTI, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has claimed to have traced at least four bank accounts of the party used to receive money from abroad.
On August 2, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in a unanimous verdict, said it found that the PTI received prohibited funding. The commission found that donations were taken from America, Australia, Canada and the UAE. PTI received funds from 34 individuals and 351 businesses including companies, the ECP verdict states. Thirteen unknown accounts have also come to light, said the commission in the verdict, adding that hiding accounts are a "violation" of Article 17 of the Constitution.
The FIA has registered an inquiry against the PTI and traced four personal and salary accounts opened in the name of PTI secretariat employees, which were being used for prohibited funding.
Sources privy to the matter said that these accounts were being blocked.
The Agency said funds were received in bank accounts of Muhammad Arshad, Tahir Iqbal, Muhammad Rafique, and Nauman Afzal, The News reported.
These employees said in their statements that they used to give the money received in their accounts to the PTI finance manager. They said they would give signed blank cheques to the finance manager. However, they said they know nothing about sources of funding. They did not know who was depositing funds in their accounts, and where the money withdrawn from their accounts was utilised. The FIA came to know during investigation that besides other accounts, foreign funding was also received in employees’ salary accounts.
On Saturday, the FIA kick-started its countrywide investigation into the utilisation of funds from ‘prohibited’ sources by the PTI.
Official sources said that an emergency has been declared in the FIA to fast investigate the case and conclude it at the earliest. A total of six inquiries have been opened simultaneously, in major cities, including the federal capital, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.
According to FIA authorities, 13 accounts have been identified in which these funds were transferred, and the agency has issued notices to the banks under which these accounts have been operating.
Courts have also directed these banks to submit complete details of the bank accounts to the FIA in order to help the inquiry teams with the investigation.
The probe was launched on a letter, written by PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar, requesting an investigation against the party for receiving funds through accounts opened in the name of employees.
The investigation agency also summoned former National Assembly speaker and senior PTI leader Asad Qaiser and Punjab Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rashid along with nine others.
According to sources, the FIA has formed five investigation committees comprising three members each in different cities, while a committee has been set up at the headquarters for coordination.
Sources said the committees would proceed with the investigations in line with the directions of the ECP; the terms of reference (ToR) have been issued in this regard.
FIA Director-General Mohsin Butt is overseeing all investigations.
In Karachi, the FIA formed a five-member team under Deputy Director Bank Circle Rabia Qureshi and comprising Assistant Director Rauf Sheikh, Inspectors Sabeen Ghauri and Aftab Watoo, and Sub Inspector Rahat Khan.
The committee has been directed to investigate funding companies, individual bank accounts, and all other monetary details, which are to be later shared with the central committee, formed at the headquarters.
The FIA Sindh has also become active and it has issued notices to former Sindh governor Imran Ismael and Seema Zia.
Akbar S Babar formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI on Wednesday.
He told FIA that 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, Akbar Babar said in his letter.