Islamabad [Pakistan], July 30 (ANI): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the party formed by former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan whose political rise has stemmed from anti-corruption rhetoric, had received funding via a private cricket tournament organised by a Pakistani tycoon, the Financial Times reported.
The report said that Pakistani tycoon Arif Naqvi, founder of Dubai-based Abraaj Group, presided over the “Wootton T20 Cup” with invented names from 2010 to 2012 that was used to collect between 2,000 pounds and 2,500 pounds from guests for unspecified “philanthropic causes”.
“It is the type of charity fundraiser repeated up and down the UK every summer. What makes it unusual is that the ultimate benefactor was a political party in Pakistan. The fees were paid to Wootton Cricket Ltd, which, despite the name, was a Cayman Islands-incorporated company owned by Naqvi and the money was being used to bankroll Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Khan’s political party,” Financial Times report said.
It said funds poured into Wootton Cricket from companies and individuals
“Pakistan forbids foreign nationals and companies from funding political parties, but Abraaj emails and internal documents seen by the Financial Times, including a bank statement covering the period between February 28 and May 30 2013 for a Wootton Cricket account in the UAE, show that both companies and foreign nationals as well as citizens of Pakistan sent millions of dollars to Wootton Cricket — before money was transferred from the account to Pakistan for the PTI,” the report said.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has been probing the funding of PTI for several years. Imran Khan, a World Cup-winning captain, presented himself ahead of the 2013 general elections in Pakistan as an anti-corruption crusader and his party became the third largest in the National Assembly.
Khan won the election in July 2018 and the report said that as prime minister he became increasingly critical of the west, praising Afghanistan’s Taliban when US forces withdrew in 2021, and visiting Vladimir Putin in Moscow on the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February.
Financial Times report said that in January, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s scrutiny committee issued a damning report in which it said the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies and accused it of under-reporting funds and concealing dozens of bank accounts.
“Wootton Cricket was named in the report, but Naqvi wasn’t identified as its owner… Wootton Cricket’s bank statement shows it received USD 1.3mn on March 14 2013 from Abraaj Investment Management Ltd, the fund management unit of Naqvi’s private equity firm, boosting the account’s previous balance of USD 5,431. Later the same day, USD 1.3mn was transferred from the account directly to a PTI bank account in Pakistan. Abraaj expensed the cost to a holding company through which it controlled K-Electric, the power provider to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city,” the Financial Times report said.
The report Imran Khan visited Wootton Place in 2002. In a written response to questions from the British newspaper, the former cricketer said he had gone to “a fundraising event which was attended by many PTI supporters”.
The report noted that ECP investigation into the funding of Khan’s party was triggered when Akbar S Babar, who helped establish the PTI, filed a complaint in December 2014.
In his written response to FT, Imran Khan said that neither he nor his party was aware of Abraaj providing USD 1.3mn through Wootton Cricket.
“Arif Naqvi has given a statement which was filed before the Election Commission also, not denied by anyone, that the money came from donations during a cricket match and the money as collected by him was sent through his company Wootton Cricket,” Khan wrote.
Khan said he was waiting for the verdict of the election commission’s investigation. “It will not be appropriate to prejudge PTI.”
The UK newspaper said that for Babar, who helped found the PTI, the controversy is proof that Khan has fallen short of the ideals they set out to champion in politics.
“He had the opportunity of a lifetime and he blew it. Our cause was reform, change — introduce the values in our politics that we espoused publicly. [Khan’s] morality compass in a political sense went haywire,” the report quoted Babar as saying. (ANI)