The top investigation agency of Pakistan revealed that an amount of over PKR 787 million was deposited and then withdrawn from an undeclared account, allegedly maintained by the former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with a now-defunct bank.
The development comes after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) unearthed three hidden PTI accounts which were used to funnel huge amounts into Pakistan from abroad. According to Pakistan's local media outlet, these accounts were used for transferring funds from the Wootton Cricket Club.
Imran Khan's party PTI is under the scanner in foreign funding controversy, a document obtained by the FIA from the defunct bank, reveals that the PTI had officially authorised four individuals to operate the account, Dawn reported.
The list of names includes Fariduddin Ahmed, who came to prominence after the release of the Pandora Papers regarding the offshore holdings and potential tax evasion by bigwigs, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in October of last year, the Dawn reported.
In the disclosures, it emerged that two offshore companies, namely Hawk Field Limited and Lock Gate Investment, were registered in the name of Ahmed. Documents showed his address in Pakistan as 2-Zaman Park, Lahore; the residence of PTI chairman Imran Khan.
At the time, Imran Khan's close aide Shahbaz Gill had denied Khan's association with Ahmed, claiming that neither the PTI chief knew the man personally, nor had he ever met him.
Later, Ahmed also denied any link between Khan and his offshore companies but said that both he and Imran Khan had a shared Burki heritage, Dawn reported.
Another authorised account holder is Omer Farooq aka Goldie, the owner of Shapes Gym, who is said to be a close friend of Imran Khan. The two others include Hamid Zaman and Rai Azizullah.
The decision to allow these four persons to operate the account had been taken by the central finance board of the PTI, according to a notification issued on December 26, 2012, days before the account was opened. The notification carried the signatures of the then-central finance secretary of the party, Sardar Azhar Tariq.
While almost all the banks shared statements and other financial details with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), including foreign exchange remittances received by the PTI, the now-defunct bank in question has only now shared details with the FIA, having earlier refused to cooperate with the ECP.
In a letter written on July 16, 2018, the bank had initially sought more time from the ECP and finally expressed its inability to share details with the ECP citing software incompatibility as the reason in another letter dated August 20, 2018, Dawn reported.
It is interesting to note that during this five-week gap between the first and second letter, the country witnessed general elections (held on July 25, 2018) and PTI chairman Imran Khan took oath as the prime minister on August 18, 2018.
While, a spokesperson with the PTI's Central Media Office said it was a "disbursement account" and not a collection account, adding that there was nothing illegal about it.
Notably, Akbar S Babar, the man who blew the lid off the scam involving the inflow of dubious foreign funds into Imran Khan's political outfit Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI.