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PTI Underreported Millions in Funding to the ECP: Report

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Scrutiny committee says ruling party failed to provide ‘clear response’ to queries on funding it received from foreign countries

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday released a report compiled by a scrutiny committee probing the source and quantum of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s funds, revealing that the incumbent ruling party had under-reported Rs. 312 million between 2009 and 2013 and had also received millions of dollars in donations from foreign nationals and companies.

According to the report—which utilized data provided by the State Bank of Pakistan as well as the PTI and petitioner Akbar S. Babar—the PTI disclosed only 4 accounts to the ECP even though it had access to 26 during the four years that were examined. It said the SBP showed that the PTI had received Rs. 1.64 billion in donations but had only revealed Rs. 1.33 billion to the ECP.

While summarizing the discrepancies in the PTI’s submissions to the ECP, the scrutiny committee’s report stressed that petitioner Babar had failed to provide complete evidence of his claims of the ruling party’s financial malpractice. It said the evidence he had provided was not admissible in courts, but the investigation could proceed on the basis of information provided by the party itself.

The report states that around 1,414 companies in Pakistan, 47 foreign companies and 119 potential companies provided funds to the PTI between 2009 and 2013. During this time, it said, the PTI had received $2.3448 million in funding from the U.S., but the scrutiny committee couldn’t obtain access to the party’s U.S. bank accounts. In addition to the U.S., the PTI also received funds from Dubai, the U.K., Europe, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Australia and several other countries.

A private bank informed the central bank of the PTI receiving $2.2 million funds from Dubai but no additional details were available, said the ECP. The details of prohibited funding from other countries were not provided by the petitioner and the PTI, read the report, adding that it could thus not comment on the source of this funding.

The ECP probe also pointed out that the firm that had audited the PTI’s accounts appeared to have compiled its reports based on the same information for five years; it said the final year under consideration had a different firm but the audit’s contents had remained the same. The committee, in light of this, arrived at the conclusion that there was a contradiction between the audit reports and the PTI’s bank statements.

“A perusal of the chartered accountant’s opinion on the accounts of PTI for this period does not indicate any deviation from the reporting principles and standards,” the report notes. However, it calls into question the certificate signed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan that was submitted with details of the party’s audited accounts.

The committee said it had sent the PTI a questionnaire on the funding it received from foreign countries but had obtained no clear response.

‘Inaccurate’ report

Addressing media after the ECP proceedings, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain claimed the scrutiny committee’s report was “inaccurate” and reiterated calls for the release of details of funding of all political parties. Alleging that the scrutiny committee had counted two transactions of Rs. 150 million and Rs. 160 million twice, he claimed there was no “under-reporting” once the disparity was resolved.

Of the “hidden” bank accounts, he claimed eight of the listed accounts were inactive, eight were functional and 10 did not actually belong to the party. He also claimed the report had “proven”—without any further elaborations—that the PTI had not received any foreign funding.

The ECP resumed hearing of Babar’s foreign funding case against the PTI on Tuesday after almost nine months. The case has been pending since Nov. 14, 2014, with the PTI having sought 54 adjournments despite repeatedly claiming it had nothing to hide.

During proceedings on Tuesday, the ECP turned down a request by the PTI to keep the scrutiny committee’s report a secret. The next hearing into the case has been scheduled for Jan. 18.

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