Thursday May 23, 2024

PTI misled ECP while disowning 11 bank accounts

By Fakhar Durrani
March 29, 2022
PTI misled ECP while disowning 11 bank accounts

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has deliberately misled the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by misrepresenting the facts in the foreign funding case regarding the disowning of 11 bank accounts in the name of the party’s key leaders, including National Assembly speaker as well as the governors of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.

The claim of the ruling party submitted to the ECP is contradicted by the official documents of PTI, including its finance board resolutions as well as four senior members of the party who operated these disowned bank accounts. The documents confirm that the PTI’s central finance department had full knowledge of some of those accounts and was also involved in operating those accounts.

Some of the PTI’s disowned account holders claimed that a key member of the party, who is holding a top constitutional post, was not included in the list of renounced bank accounts which reflects the party’s pick-and-choose policy.

Documents available with The News show that on December 2, 2012 the central finance board of PTI held a meeting and approved the appointment of four individuals — Mohammad Saleem Jan, Khalid Masood, Zafarullah Khan Khattak and Engr. Hamidul Haq as signatories of an existing account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at KASB Bank Limited in Peshawar Cantt. A similar resolution was passed on the same date for the appointment of these four individuals as signatories of the party’s bank account in HBL Peshawar.

After the finance board’s resolution, a notification was sent to HBL Peshawar general manager, who was informed about the changing of account’s signatories on December 4, 2012. However, in its written reply, the PTI has misrepresented the facts before the ECP and claimed that these accounts were unauthorized and not in the knowledge of the PTI’s finance department. In contradiction to the PTI finance department’s claim to the ECP, the documents clearly reflect that the finance board was not only aware of these accounts but had also appointed and removed the signatories of these accounts.

The News contacted the four individuals to confirm whether they were operating those accounts with the approval of the party leadership or whether these accounts were unauthorized and operated without the knowledge of party leadership.

Muhammad Saleem Jan, while talking to The News, confirmed that he along with three other members were appointed as a signatory of the bank account by the PTI central finance board and said that he has copies of board resolution as well as an appointment letter. “It is beyond my understanding why the central finance department has disowned the bank account and its signatories, who were appointed by the finance board itself,” Saleem Jan said.

Jahangir Rehman told The News that the bank account was opened in 2003, when there was no central finance department of the PTI. Obviously, the top leadership was in the knowledge of this account as it was opened and operated for running the party’s operations, he said. He added that he was not the only signatory of the account. “I don’t know why the central finance board did not mention the other names who were also the signatories of that account. Provincial general secretary, finance secretary and president of the party’s provincial chapter were also signatories of that account,” Jahangir Rehman said.

Talking to The News, Samar Ali Khan, whose name also appeared as a signatory of one of the accounts disowned by the PTI, said he opened an account with the approval of party leadership. He was not the only signatory of that account, he said.

“The then secretary general of PTI, Mr. Arif Alvi and some other senior members of the party, were part of the committee which donated to run the day-to-day affairs of the party’s office in Sindh. For this purpose, it was decided to open a bank account. Back then there was no concept of the PTI finance department. The central finance department was constituted in 2010-11 and the disowned bank account was opened way before then,” Samar Ali Khan said.

Najeeb Haroon, when contacted by The News, said he was a founding member of PTI. “If I remember it correctly, I was the signatory of the bank account and definitely it was in the knowledge of the party’s top leadership. How could it not be in the knowledge of party leadership?” he questioned.

“I am one of the highest individual taxpayers in the country. Out of 220 million, I am the 32nd highest taxpayer in Pakistan and have never received a salary as a member of the National Assembly. The bank account disowned by the PTI was not my personal account but opened and operated to run day-to-day affairs of the party. There were three signatories of that account but I don’t remember exactly who the other two were,” said Najeeb Haroon.

It is important to note here that in a written reply submitted before the ECP on March 15, 2022, PTI had challenged the ECP Scrutiny Committee finding that the party had concealed several of its accounts for the period 2009-13 while submitting its annual audited reports before the commission that were certified by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Instead, PTI had disowned 11 of its accounts that it had earlier accepted before the ECP Scrutiny Committee. As per the scrutiny committee’s report (page 92), the PTI had revealed only two bank accounts each in the annual audit reports for fiscal years 2008-12 and four for the year 2013. Whereas, the record from the State Bank of Pakistan revealed that the PTI concealed five accounts in 2008, seven in 2009, thirteen in 2010, fourteen in 2011, and fourteen in 2012-13.

The PTI, in its written reply to the ECP on March 15, 2022, had disowned 11 of its accounts by stating that the accounts ‘came to the knowledge and information of PTI upon the disclosure of the same by the State Bank of Pakistan’ in 2018.

PTI had also claimed that all those who opened, operated and received donations in these accounts did so without authority “as these individuals were not authorized by competent authority for the opening of these bank accounts” and that the “bank accounts were operated without the knowledge of the PTI Finance Department.”