ISLAMABAD: A business tycoon, Tariq Shafi, has emerged as the main ‘cash boy’ of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the investigation so far conducted into the foreign funding case by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He is a member of PTI’s Central Finance Board, signatory of the party’s main account and the member of Board of Governors of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital.
Other businessmen under scrutiny for helping in laundering funds are mostly linked with Shafi like Hamid Zaman, presently in FIA custody. There are two FIRs registered against Shafi; one in Lahore and Karachi each. Another business individual, unrelated to Shafi, was a conduit for prohibited funds credited from the USA into his account which he transferred into a PTI account.
These individuals are in addition to the PTI office-bearers, including Imran Khan, who are under investigation in connection with either running accounts disowned by the party before Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) or withdrew handsome amounts from these undeclared accounts. The Financial Monitoring Unit has informed the FIA that there were as many 52 transactions relating to PTI funding received short before 2013’s elections where Suspicious Transaction Reports could have been generated but the banks turned a blind eye.
As for Tariq Shafi, he set up a fake entity, The Insaf Trust, to receive funds from the owner of Abraaj Group, Arif Naqvi. Through this, he received $625,000 from Wooton Cricket Limited, an offshore company set up in Cayman Islands by Naqvi.
While Shafi chaired the Trust, Ashiq Hussain Qureshi (now deceased) was deputy chairman, Hamid Zaman secretary general whereas Manzoor Ahmed Chaudhry and Mubashir Ahmed were the trustees. In a typical style used in money laundering, the funds were first received in dollar account of the Trust, later credited into its local currency account and from there onward transferred to two media advertising agencies which were used by PTI during the election campaign of 2013. The former received Rs36m and the latter Rs25 million.
As the FIA inquired from the advertising agencies that how come the payment, which they owed to the PTI, was received from a third source, they said they checked with the staff of Asad Umar, then campaign head of the party, and were conveyed in writing on behalf of Umar that the Trust belonged to the PTI, evidence which can have serious implications for Umar.
The amount received in the Trust’s account is in addition to $575,000 which was directly transferred into Shafi’s account from Wooton Cricket and he credited it into the PTI’s account. Shafi during his appearance before the FIA in Lahore claimed that he didn’t know Naqvi. Asked about the funds transferred into the Trust’s and his personal account from Wooton Cricket, he said he could not recall since this occurred nine years ago and sought time. The FIA recently raided his house in Karachi. He is on protective bails granted by the Sindh High Court and Lahore High Court.
With the disclosure of above-mentioned funds, Naqvi’s affidavit he submitted before the ECP has also been called into question.
According to the affidavit, he transferred $2.1 million to the PTI which he collected from ‘expatriate Pakistanis in the UAE.’ He didn’t mention the $1.2 million he sent to Shafi. Also under scrutiny is Naqvi’s statement regarding collection from expatriate Pakistanis in the UAE as Imran Khan said it was done through cricket matches in the UK. The donation of a UAE’s dignitary also forms part of this amount.
The FIA has sought account details of Wooton from UAE authorities under Mutual Legal Assistance arrangement.
Arif Naqvi’s affidavit--submitted by the PTI in ECP--said: “That I categorically state that I have collected/ received funds in form of donations and fundraising events for PTI “Not Prohibited Funds” from only Pakistani Expatriates and Pakistani nationals, resident (whether permanently or temporarily) and living Overseas.
“Regarding the highlighted transactions in relation to WCL and the ensuing queries and to the best of my knowledge, I have not collected any fund from any person of non-Pakistani origin, company (public or private) or any other prohibited source as defined under Rule 6 (3) of the Political parties Order, 2002.”
Shafi is also under investigation in yet another case in Karachi registered where he is co-accused together with Naqvi. A Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) was generated by the Financial Monitoring Unit in February this year when the PTI was still in power. According to details, he received $1.84 million through inward remittances into his personal account previously used by Wooton Cricket for transferring PTI funds.
The amount ($1.84 million) was credited by offshore companies namely Miltblue Limited, Trident Trust and Harbor Services Limited. He took this amount without the permission of the State Bank of Pakistan. Whether this money was also destined for PTI has yet to be investigated.
In the affidavit Naqvi said that all amounts collected in the books of Wooton Cricket Limited were sent to PTI’s official account and “were totally reconciled and I have been told that and believe, followed the correct process to become fully reflected in PTI audited accounts submitted to Election Commission of Pakistan.”
Naqvi added: “All amounts sent to Pakistan were through banking channels, no other methods or any route was used to transfer money to PTI-Pakistan by WCL.”
Another businessman from Karachi, Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz, has been summoned by the FIA in connection with an amount of Rs8 million transferred to the PTI shortly before 2013 elections. The amount was traced back to an American-Pakistani Dr Arjumand Hashmi, a three-time mayor of Paris, a county of Texas, the USA. In 2014, Hashmi shot to fame in Pakistan for issuing a medical certificate saying the former military dictator, then facing trial, was prone to heart attack. Musharraf conferred him with Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2005.
By way of background, Niaz who was intermediary between the PTI and Dr Hashmi in funds transfer, is trustee/ director of a charity, The Health Foundation, in addition to holding directorship of a company where one of directors is wife of Asad Umar. Much like Shafi, Niaz received funds from Hashmi into his dollar account and transferred into his Pakistani currency account before crediting into the PTI account. He sought three-week time to reply as the FIA summoned him for interrogation.
A website, www.namanzoor.com, is also under investigation for collection of funds which were to be used for anti-government movement. The administrators of the website are employees of M/s Tiles Mountain. Information technology minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal, is the owner of this tile business. Senator Saifullah Nyazee, has also been on FIA radar in this connection as he was involved in raising funds through this website.
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