General

PTI funding case: Court orders committee to scrutinize party’s finances

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday directed the formation of a committee to investigate Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s finances as it announced its verdict in a case pertaining to the party’s sources of funding.
A dissident founder member of the PTI and petitioner, Akbar S. Babar, had filed a case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.
The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.
The party avoided submitting the required documents for nearly two years for one reason or the other; first approaching the Supreme Court to challenge the commission’s jurisdiction in the matter and later, challenging the maintainability of the case before the high court.
After months of foot-dragging, the PTI finally submitted account statements and documents detailing the funding it received from foreign sources over the past seven years to the ECP on Sept 18 last year despite being given several ‘last warnings’ by the commission which went largely ignored  to submit the required documents.
In today’s hearing, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, announced its verdict in the long-drawn out case, ordering the formation of a three-member committee headed by the DG Law to scrutinise the minutiae of the party’s sources of funding.
As per the ECP verdict, the committee is to present a report on its findings within a month.
The committee will scrutinise all documents in the presence of the petitioner, the respondents and their lawyers.
All parties were directed to appear before the ECP on March 19.