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FIA starts probing ‘prohibited funds’ use by PTI

FIA launches formal countrywide investigation into utilisation of funds from prohibited sources by PTI

By Our Correspondent
August 06, 2022
Ousted prime minister Imran Khan (C) waves at his party supporters during a rally in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Ousted prime minister Imran Khan (C) waves at his party supporters during a rally in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday launched a formal countrywide investigation into the utilisation of funds from prohibited sources by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The FIA launched the investigation on a letter written by Akbar S Babar, requesting a probe against the PTI for receiving funds through accounts opened in the name of junior employees.

A five-member monitoring team was constituted in this regard to supervise inquiries across Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Quetta. The team is headed by Muhammad Athar Waheed. The PTI employees told the FIA in their preliminary interviews that they were unaware of how accounts in their names were being used by the party.

Four employees, including Muhammad Rafiq, Tahir Iqbal and Muhammad Arshad, named in the ECP ruling in the Akbar Sher Babar vs the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) case were called in on Friday for preliminary interviews. The FIA will also issue notices to PTI’s Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed in Lahore and Asad Qaiser in Peshawar on August 6 (today) to appear by August 10.

In his statement to the FIA, Muhammad Arshad said he had no knowledge of who was sending the funding and from where. Tahir Iqbal told the FIA that the amount in the accounts was handed over in cash or through a cheque to PTI’s finance manager. Muhammad Rafiq told FIA that he did not know where the money was spent and for what purpose. “The PTI’s Finance Department used to take a blank cheque signed by me,” he said.

The employees being investigated include PTI chief Imran Khan’s personal secretary and PTI’s general manager finance. Akbar S. Babar formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI on Wednesday. Babar told the FIA that the PTI’s financial board in 2011 illegally authorized four employees of the party’s central secretariat to collect donations in their personal accounts from within Pakistan and abroad. A sum of Rs11.104 million was deposited in the accounts of the PTI employees which was beyond their known sources of income, Babar said in his letter.

Babar wrote that the funds were received through the accounts of employees Tahir Iqbal, Muhammad Nauman Afzal, Muhammad Arshad and Muhammad Rafiq. Acting on this letter and the ECP ruling on this case, the FIA is probing the utilization of funds from 13 undeclared accounts and has issued notices to the account holders. Sources close to these developments say the FIA also wants to probe whether there are unknown accounts, besides looking into sources of funding in these accounts, how much funds were sent through them and whether funds were transferred in accordance with the laws of host countries.

Awais Yousafzai adds: The four employees of the PTI’s central secretariat have challenged the FIA notices in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard their petition.

Counsel for the petitioners, Muhammad Arshad, Muhammad Rafique, Noman Afzal and Tahir Iqbal, stated that an FIA inspector issued notices in haste at midnight after the interior minister’s press conference. The counsel requested the court to dismiss the notices and restrain the FIA from acting against the petitioners. Summoning the inspector on August 10, the IHC issued notices to the respondents.