ISLAMABAD: In a significant development which is likely to have an impact on the PTI foreign funding case, a documented list has emerged of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf employees who were authorised to receive party donations from within and outside Pakistan.
The document, available with Dawn, reveals the names of employees. They included reportedly PTI’s telephone operator (Tahir Iqbal), computer operator (Muhammad Nauman Afzal), accountant (Mohammad Arshad) and PTI’s office helper (Mohammad Rafiq).
The decision to allow the PTI employees to collect the funds was taken at a meeting held on July 1, 2011. It was attended by Saifullah Niazi, the incumbent chief organiser and an aspirant of a PTI Senate ticket; Aamer Mahmud Kiani, present secretary general and former health minister who was removed from the federal cabinet; Dr Humayun Mohmand, who was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors of PIMS; Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, the party’s former finance secretary and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan; Colonel Yunus Ali Raza, and Tariq R. Sheikh.
PTI financial adviser says money received in private accounts ultimately went to party account
When contacted, PTI’s central finance secretary and financial adviser Siraj Ahmad confirmed that a ‘one-time’ authorisation had been given to the four employees by the party’s finance board, but claimed that the amount received from the United Arab Emirates through Western Union in their private accounts ultimately went to the party account.
“This was our internal letter for internal control over donation receipt from the UAE through Western Union. This was only one-time activity. The UAE laws do not allow transfer of funds directly to the party,” he said.
Siraj Ahmad said all the money transferred from the UAE had been in the PTI account and this was confirmed by an independent review carried out by auditor Ahsan and Ahsan. “The auditor properly checked the bank account of authorised persons and was satisfied that all transferred amount was ultimately deposited in the PTI account,” he added.
He said the auditor had been appointed by the party chairman to review the donation system for recommendation of the control system. “The finance board was in control of the funds received and proper reconciliation was carried out. No question of funds received by any person not recorded and audited,” he added.
Siraj Ahmad said the system of donation recording and management was very controlled and the finance board was directly supervising the whole mechanism. Answering a question, he said the amount received from the UAE was around Rs2 million.
PTI’s founding member and petitioner in the PTI foreign funding case Akbar S. Babar has been alleging that donations were illegally received in the front accounts of PTI employees through Hundi, particularly from the Middle East, and siphoned off by the senior party leadership through cheques with no trace or record. He has repeatedly asked the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to investigate the private bank accounts of PTI employees which were illegally used as a front to collect donations.
The committee continues to keep the PTI records and bank statements secret despite ECP orders. The records include 23 PTI bank accounts provided to the ECP by scheduled banks on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan.
The scrutiny committee will meet on Tuesday (today) to decide whether to keep the PTI documents secret or not. The ECP has passed more than one order against secrecy of the PTI record.
When contacted, Akbar S. Babar said he had brought this issue to the notice of PTI chairman Imran Khan through a letter written on Sept 11, 2011, which was now part of the record of the ECP and Islamabad High Court. He said he had mentioned in the letter that there was evidence that the bank accounts of paid employees of the PTI central secretariat had been used as a front to collect donations from various sources.
Mr Babar claimed that millions of rupees had been deposited in these front accounts by the donors and the money was withdrawn after the paid PTI employees were made to sign cheques for cash payment. He said the deliberate concealment of funds received for the purpose of running the affairs of the party was a blatant breach of Article 4 of the Political Parties Rules 2002.
“Besides, such an illegal activity could lead to charges of money laundering against the PTI and its leadership. All this is happening with the alleged connivance of the senior PTI leadership running the affairs of the party’s central secretariat. I hope you [PTI chairman] would immediately initiate an inquiry and order a financial and performance audit of the PTI accounts by an internationally renowned firm of chartered accountants,” Mr Babar said in the letter.
He said that had Imran Khan taken serious notice and appropriate action to clean the party and hold the top leadership accountable, Pakistan would have been saved from a reckless leadership that has plunged society to new lows.
Answering a question, Mr Babar said fundraising in the Middle East was illegal and transfer of money through non-banking channels was another illegality which came under the ambit of money laundering. “This is a chain of illegalities,” he remarked. He said the funds received from the UAE had no trace and had not been mentioned in the record submitted by the PTI to the ECP.