KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday categorically denied a news item claiming that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has 18 undeclared bank accounts across the country as per its alleged report submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A report published in local media had claimed that the PTI has been operating 26 bank accounts, however, only eight of them were declared before the ECP.
The SBP, while responding to the matter, said it “neither maintains the database of banks’ individual accountholders nor possesses any related information/record.”
“Banks being the custodian of customers’ information may directly provide this information to various agencies, on case-to-case basis, as per procedure laid down under the respective laws. Therefore, it is out of question that SBP has reported 18 undeclared bank accounts of PTI out of total 26 to the ECP as reported by English language newspaper,” it added.
Moreover, the central bank said it was approached by the ECP during July 2018 for assistance to obtain the bank accounts related information of PTI from 2009 to 2013. “SBP while discharging of its duties [had] advised all banks to provide the required information/data directly to ECP by due date, as per procedure laid down under the law,” it recalled.
The media report claimed that 18 accounts of the ruling party allegedly fall in the category of ‘fake or illegal bank accounts’, as these have not been revealed in the PTI annual audit reports submitted to the ECP as required under the law.
The annual audit reports included certification of authenticity and accuracy by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, which is a legal requirement for all party heads, the report alleged.
It is being anticipated that such bank accounts and its money trail not declared before the ECP could put senior PTI leadership including Imran Khan and others in senior government ranks in legal jeopardy as they were the principal and co-principal signatories of these accounts.
According to the report, the details of these undeclared bank accounts, including two in Karachi and one each in Peshawar and Quetta, had been allegedly shared at a meeting of the ECP’s scrutiny committee headed by the commission’s director general (law) in October last year.
In July 2018, after exhausting all attempts to requisition PTI bank statements and record, the ECP wrote to the SBP to requisition the party’s bank statements. Consequently, the SBP wrote letters to the presidents of all scheduled banks, seeking PTI bank statements for the period 2009-13 to be submitted to the ECP by July 16, which was finally done.
Commenting on the report, PTI’s Central Finance Secretary Azhar Tariq said: “We have submitted all the central accounts being handled by us.” He said the PTI had asked the State Bank to share the details of the accounts it had submitted to the ECP, but the SBP governor asked the party to seek information directly from the banks. He said these might include some accounts being run by the party’s provincial offices and some of them might not be operational.
He said the ECP scrutiny committee was exceeding its jurisdiction as under the Supreme Court orders it was supposed to authenticate the details submitted by petitioner Babar, which had not yet been done.