ECP, in unanimous decision, says PTI received prohibited funds


ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan, in a unanimous verdict on Tuesday, said it has found that the PTI received prohibited funding.

The case was earlier referred to as the “foreign funding” case, but later the election commission accepted the PTI’s plea to refer to it as the “prohibited funding” case.

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 is a “violation” of Article 17 of the  Constitution.

Article 17 (2) of the Constitution states: “…law shall provide that where the Federal Government declares that any political party has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall, within fifteen days of such declaration, refer the matter to the Supreme Court whose decision on such reference shall be final.”

Article 17 (3) states: “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law.”

The funds were also in violation of Article 6 of the Political Parties Act.

Moreover, the ECP found that PTI Chairman Imran Khan submitted a false Nomination Form I and that the affidavit provided regarding party accounts was false.

The ECP has issued a show-cause notice to PTI to explain why their prohibited funds should not be confiscated.

Key takeaways

  • PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from Bristol Engineering services — a UAE-based company, an amount of $49,965 into its accounts in Pakistan which are hit by prohibition in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from E-Planet Trustees a Cayman island Pvt registered company to trust, based in Zurich Switzerland, and SS Marketing, Manchester a UK-based Pvt Company. From both the companies an amount of $101,741 into its accounts in Pakistan which are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI knowingly and willfully received donations through PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 $2,525,500. From both the companies, the amounts received into the accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI knowingly and willfully received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Ltd company in the amount of $279,822 and GBP 792,265 respectively. Similarly, an amount of Rs3,581,186 was also donated by PTI Canada Corporation to PTI Pakistan. From both the companies, the donated amounts received into the accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI knowingly and willfully received donations from Dunpec Pty Ltd, an Australia-based company and from Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports (Pakistan-based companies) a total amount of PKR 689, 750. From both the companies, the amounts received into the accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI through fundraising campaigns carried out by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 was the recipient of donations from 34 foreign Nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. The foreign nationals’ collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI has also been found to be a beneficiary of donations by Ms Romita Shetty, a US-based businesswoman of Indian origin. An amount of $13,750 donated by Romita Shetty is hit by the prohibition on donations by foreign nationals and in violation of Pakistani Laws.
  • PTI through its submission before the commission has accepted ownership of only eight accounts while it declared 13 accounts under the category of unknown accounts and do not pertain to PTI accounts. The data obtained from SBP reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by PTI were opened and operated by the senior PTI management and leadership at the Central and Provincial levels. In this regard, it is further added that PTI failed to mention and disclose three accounts which were also being operated by the senior leadership of the party. Non-disclosure and concealment of 16 bank accounts by PTI is a serious reporting lapse on the part of PTI leadership and in violation of Article 17 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan.
  • Chairman of PTI for the financial year 2008-09 to 2012-13 (five years) has submitted Form-I which were found to be grossly inaccurate on the basis of the financial statements obtained by this Commission from SBP and other material available on record.
  • “Therefore, in view of the material available on the record and above discussion, the matter falls within the ambit of Article 6 (3) of PPO, 2002. Hence the Commission directs that a notice may be issued to the Respondent party in terms of Rule-6 of PPR 2002, as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in the light of this order of the Commission.”  

‘Foreign funding not proved’

Talking to journalists outside the ECP, an adamant Farrukh Habib said that foreign funding was “not proved” against the party.

“The verdict disappointed those who were pushing the narrative of foreign funding against the PTI,” said Habib. He said that the PTI was of the view from day one that the case was related to prohibited funding and not foreign funding.

Raising questions over the ECP, the PTI leader said that the IHC had ordered a probe into the accounts of all the political parties without any discrimination.

He said that the scrutiny committee tasked to probe the accounts of PTI completed its work on time but the committees established to check the accounts of PPP and PML were yet to submit their report.

Financial Times’ exposé; Khan’s negligence

The decision to announce the verdict came after a Financial Times exposé revealed that the PTI received funding from Wootton Cricket Club belonging to Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi. The funds were generated through a charity match and an Arab personality also pitched in a large sum of money.

Strict security

Roads leading towards the election commission were blocked and a heavy police contingent was deployed outside the office ahead of the veridct.

Shahrah-e-Dastoor, where the ECP office is situated, can only be entered through two points — Serena and Margalla Roads.

Financial Times’ expose; Khan’s negligence

The FT report provided ammunition to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), and they demanded an early announcement of the verdict — in the case which was filed in 2014 by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar.

A report in The News showed that despite Babar’s repeated attempts to convince Khan that some of PTI’s top leaders were involved in financial wrongdoings, the party chairman turned a blind eye — eventually leading to the ex-PTI leader filing a case in the ECP.

The PTI was projected to not accept the decision if it does not favour them as even before being ousted from power, ex-prime minister Khan and his party had repeatedly criticised the ECP and the CEC.

The PTI has time and again maintained that the ECP needs to be reconstituted before the country heads towards the next general elections and has also levelled serious allegations against the body — but the ECP rejects all wrongdoings.

What’s next?

Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad told just before the verdict that in case it is against the PTI and the commission says the party received prohibited funding, then the body will send a reference to the federal government.

Dilshad said that once the government receives the reference, it will then move the Supreme Court and file a reference against the party under Article 17.

The apex court will then hold a hearing with a full bench, he said.

Before the government sends a reference, Dilshad said, the PTI can also challenge the election commission’s order in the apex court.

In case the SC bans the party, then all the accounts will be frozen, the offices will be sealed, and all the members of parliament will lose their status as lawmakers.

“A pandora’s box will open as Akbar S Babar has such evidence,” he added.

PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from ECP: report

The PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the ECP, the report of an ECP scrutiny committee probing the party’s funds revealed on January 4.

The report stated that the PTI provided “false information” regarding the party’s funding to the ECP. It said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) bank statement revealed that the party had received Rs1.64 billion in funding.

According to the report, the party did not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP.

The scrutiny committee was formed in 2018 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI.

The case was marred by several delays, including the PTI challenging the election commission’s jurisdiction and a change of lawyers nine times.