IHC To Announce Verdict In PTI Prohibited Funding Case Today

IHC To Announce Verdict In PTI Prohibited Funding Case Today
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will announce the verdict on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition against the ruling of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the prohibited funding case today (Thursday).

In August 2022, the ECP issued a show-cause notice to the PTI after finding out that the party had secured funding from prohibited sources. Later, the PTI challenged the notice in the IHC.

A three-member bench of the IHC — comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Miangul Hassan and Justice Babar Sattar — had reserved the verdict on January 11.

It is pertinent to mention here that on August 2, 2022, the ECP announced a verdict 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 ECP found that donations were taken from foreign nationals belonging to various countries including America, Australia, Canada, India and the UAE.

The party had also received funding from companies, which is prohibited under the election laws.

In the verdict, the ECP said that 13 unidentified accounts also came to light, adding that hiding accounts was a "violation" of Article 17 of the Constitution.

Read also: FIA Lodges FIR Against PTI Chief Imran Khan Over Prohibited Funds

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday lodged an FIR against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in connection with prohibited funding.

The aforementioned FIR has been lodged at the agency’s Banking Circle Police Station. Now-defunct Abraaj Group had transferred $210,000 to the PTI, according to the FIR. The sum was transferred to a party account at the branch of a bank located at Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad. Funds were also transferred to the PTI from Wootton Cricket.

The club was also presided over by Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi. The Abraaj Group, now in liquidation following accusations of fraud, was spearheaded by Pakistani businessman Naqvi. The private equity firm’s interests spanned continents from its base in the UAE emirate of Dubai.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had unanimously found that PTI received prohibited funds in August, 2022. A three-member bench declared the verdict around 10:30 AM, which was originally supposed to be announced on June 21st, but had been reserved. The bench was headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander (CEC) Sultan Raja. The case against PTI was filed in 2014 by the party’s founding member Akbar Babar and had been pending since November 2014.

In the ECP’s verdict, it was declared that the party had ‘knowingly and willfully’ received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, a company run by business tycoon Arif Naqvi, who had organized political fundraisers for PTI in the past. The CEC ruled that the PTI had been a ‘willing recipient’ of prohibited fund amounting to around $2,121,500.

Other sources of prohibited funding included  donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Island private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were ‘hit by prohibition and were in violation of Pakistani laws’.

In addition, the party also received funds from the PTI Canada Corporation, PTI UK Public Limited Company, Australia-based company Dunpec Limited, and Romita Shetty, a US-based business woman of Indian-origin. “PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws,” the ECP ruling said.

The ruling also said that the party had failed to disclose 16 bank accounts, three of which were being operated by senior PTI leadership. It added that non-disclosure and concealment of bank accounts was a violation of Article 17(3) (3), which says, “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with law.”