ISLAMABAD: Investigation into ‘questionable’ money transferred to Pakistan by former Abraaj Group owner Arif Naqvi reveals large amount of foreign funds were used for former ruling party’s media campaign Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ( PTI) during the 2013 general election.
Documents obtained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), seen by Dawn, revealed that $625,000 had been funneled through Wootton Cricket Limited, an offshore company registered in the Cayman Islands and owned by Mr Naqvi, who is currently the subject of of a lawsuit in a US court for a financial investment of 1 billion dollars. fraud.
This is in addition to the $2.12 million received into PTI accounts directly from Wootton, as noted in the August 2 election commission verdict in the party’s banned funding case.
Documents show the money was sent from Wootton Cricket’s account to ‘The Insaf Trust’ account opened by PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s close friend Tariq Shafi in his capacity as the trust’s first chairman. Mr. Shafi also received $575,000 in one of his personal accounts and transferred to a declared PTI account.
Interestingly, the stated aims of the trust were to promote a sense of participatory democracy and the rule of law, democratic values and political awareness in society, in addition to undertaking activities in various forms to promote the health education and social order.
A clause in the trust deed included: “The trust, its funds or property or the association of the trustees with the trust shall not be used for the personal gain of any particular person or group of persons .”
Other signatories to the trust bank account were the late Ashiq Hussain Qureshi and Hamid Zaman, both close friends of Imran Khan, and it was opened in May 2012 at Habib Bank Ltd, Lahore Cantt branch.
On May 8, 2013, three days before the general election, two media management companies – namely “Communication Spot” and “Group M” – were paid 36 million rupees and 25 million rupees respectively to the trust account of the PTI election campaign, the documents revealed. . The account was used for a single transaction and has been inactive since.
Funding the media campaign through a charity account is considered a serious breach of the Political Parties Ordinance 2002, in addition to being charged with money laundering. This amount remained hidden from the Election Commission of Pakistan.
FIA sources revealed that Tariq Shafi and others who had opened the trust account received three appeal notices, but none of them showed up. They said the notices were also sent to the two media management companies paid for the PTI election campaign.
“Group M”, in its response to the FIA notice of appeal, confirmed that it had received a deposit of Rs 412 million to organize the PTI election campaign in 2013, of which Rs 375 million was used and the balance was returned to the party via a cross-check dated September 18, 2013. This amount was spent on media advertisements on various television channels.
He added that the company had also provided similar services to other major political parties, including the PML-N.
The company, he said, was unaware of the sources of the funds it invested in the media. “In short, the company had a professional relationship with PTI,” his response said.
The FIA investigation revealed that the refund was made through a cross-check in favor of PTI in its undeclared account, titled “PTI – National Campaign Office”, maintained at KASB Bank – now Bank Islami Pakistan. A significant portion of 383 million rupees – out of the 412 million rupees – had been paid to the company from this account in the now defunct KASB bank. The PTI central office account was used to contribute only Rs 3.43 million.
The other company, however, requested additional time to submit its response.
Tariq Shafi has already approached the Lahore High Court which ordered the FIA to continue its investigation but prevented it from taking any adverse action against him. Mr. Shafi, in his petition, claimed that the money was transferred through the proper banking channels.
Sardar Azhar Tariq, PTI’s senior vice president (finance), did not respond to Dawn’s repeated attempts to seek comment.
Posted in Dawn, September 3, 2022