FIA summons PTI’s Qasim Suri, other leaders in foreign funding case

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday summoned former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri among four other PTI leaders to appear in person before the agency on Thursday in a case pertaining to the Election Commission of Pak­­istan (ECP) order in prohibited funding case.

In a summon issued to the PTI leaders, the FIA’s Commercial Banking Circle sought the record of funds transferred to PTI Balochistan accounts between 2011 and 2013.

The financial watchdog pointed out that Rs5.3 million were withdrawn from the PTI accounts in the aforementioned three years out of total deposited Rs5.5m in the same period.

“The bank account where the money was transferred is registered in the name of Qasim Khan Suri and three other PTI leaders,” the agency said.

Responding to the FIA summon, PTI Balochistan spokesperson Asif Tareen quoted Suri as saying that he had received the FIA notice on Wednesday night, wherein the agency sought details of funds transferred to party’s account in Balochistan.

“None of our leaders will appear before the FIA today as the Islamabad High Court has already declared such notices unconstitutional,” Suri claimed.

He added the money was deposited to official account of the PTI from 2011 to 2013 and the funds were used for party affairs.

“The funds were not sent to my personal account,” he clarified.

The FIA had on Aug 5 constituted a five-member team to supervise inquiry teams of the agency’s respe­ctive zones probing into the prohibited funding case. Hea­ded by its Director Muh­a­m­mad Athar Waheed, the monitoring team would be responsible for coordination with and guiding the respective inquiry teams in each zone.

The team was notified just a few days after a three-member ECP bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals. As per the notification, the probe is being conducted under Section 6 of the Political Parties Order 2002.

In Karachi, the agency had summoned former Sindh governor Imran Ismail and MPA Dr Seema Zia. Sources said the FIA has also sought details from two private banks where the party was operating four accounts, which came under the radar after the ECP verdict. All four accounts, they had said, were opened and operated in Karachi.

The prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — was filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar and has been pending since November 14, 2014.

Babar, who is no longer associated with PTI, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

The PTI has, however, denied any wrongdoing and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was constituted to examine the PTI’s financing.

The committee submitted its report on January 4, after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

The report confirmed that the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.

It also mentioned a refusal by the party to divulge details of large transactions and the panel’s helplessness to get details of PTI’s foreign accounts and the funds collected abroad.

It further called into question the certificate, signed by PTI chairperson Imran Khan, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

According to the report, the party under-reported an amount of Rs312 million over a four-year period, between FY2009-10 and FY2012-13. Year-wise details show that an amount of over Rs145m was under-reported in FY2012-13 alone.

The report also referred to the controversy over allowing four PTI employees to receive donations in their personal accounts, but said it was out of the scope of its work to probe their accounts.

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