FIA casts a wide net in PTI funding case

Summons former NA speaker Qaiser, Minister Rasheed on Aug 11, ex-Sindh governor Ismail on 15th


​ Our Correspondents August 07, 2022
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). PHOTO: File

ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI:

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday formed a five-member special monitoring team, expanding the scope of inquiry into the prohibited funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to the entire country.

The probe kicked off after the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) verdict in the prohibited funding case with the FIA summoning five former ruling party leaders, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, Provincial Minister Mahmoodur Rasheed, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, to appear before it this month.

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A five-member special team under the leadership of Director Training Dr Muhammad Athar Waheed will be responsible for coordination with zonal inquiry teams in Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta and Faisalabad.

The team includes Additional Director Khalid Anees, Deputy Director Khawaja Hamad, Deputy Director Chaudhry Ejaz and Assistant Director Ejaz Ahmed Shaikh.

On Tuesday, the electoral body announced the long-awaited decision and ruled that the PTI did indeed receive illegal funding, while issuing a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.

The case had been filed by PTI founding but disgruntled member Akbar S Babar which had been pending since November 14, 2014.

The written order of the ECP stated that the political party received illegal funds from foreign countries, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and Australia.

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The electoral watchdog declared that 13 'unknown' accounts had been found linked to the party and the submissions by PTI Chairman Imran Khan were “inaccurate and wrong”.

It said the former ruling party had received millions of dollars from 351 foreign companies and 34 nationals.

The eight-year delayed ruling had hit the PTI at a time when Imran was voicing concerns over the top election supervisory body's conduct.

However, in the wake of the ruling, the party downplayed the potential impact on its political fortunes, insisting its books were in record and in fact the ruling vindicated its own stance that the party was not "foreign-funded".

On Thursday, the government decided to send a declaration against the PTI to the Supreme Court following the ECP decision.

Addressing a news conference after a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said action against the PTI would be taken under the Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002 and the Election Act 2017.

According to Marriyum, who cited the ECP verdict, the foreign individuals and companies involved in funding the PTI included Wootton Cricket Limited, Bristol Engineering Services, E planet Trustees, PTI USA LLC, PTI Canada Corporation, Dunpec Pty Ltd of Australia and an Indian businesswoman Romita Shetty.

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The minister said the cabinet had decided that the FIA would be assigned the task of investigating the prohibited funding case.

The Economic Crime Wing of the FIA initiated an investigation into the PTI prohibited funding case.

The FIA zonal inquiry teams will get details regarding the assets of PTI. The inquiry will be conducted under PPO 2002.

According to a notification despatched to zonal offices, the monitoring team will also guide the inquiry teams.

Meanwhile, FIA Karachi also issued a notification for the formation of a five-member team under the leadership of Deputy Director Commercial Bank Circle Rabia Qureshi. The team includes Assistant Director Rauf Shaikh, Inspector Sabeen Ghori, Aftab Wattoo, Sub Inspector Rahat Khan.

The teams will obtain details of funding companies, bank accounts of individuals, financial matters. The details obtained from the Federal Board of Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan will be shared with the team established at the headquarters.

The FIA Peshawar summoned former speaker Qaiser and FIA Lahore Provincial Minister Rasheed on August 11. The FIA Karachi summoned Dr Seema Zia and Najeeb Haroon on August 12 and former Sindh governor Imran Ismail on August 15.

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