Pakistan election agency rules Imran Khan’s party got illegal funds

The decision could lead to a ban on Khan and his Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which has gained notoriety in the field of anti-corruption.

Khan, who analysts say had clashed with military powers over the appointment of a spy chief in the run-up to his ouster earlier this year, was not immediately available for comment. A PTI party spokesperson denied any allegation.

The commission’s ruling is a major setback for the former cricketer who is campaigning against the new government.

The case, filed in 2014 by Akbar S. Khan, one of the founders of the PTI, accused the party of receiving illegal funds from abroad.

“The commission is satisfied that the contributions and donations received by the defendant from prohibited sources,” said the ruling, which has been seen by Reuters.

The committee said the party also hid 13 bills, adding that the statement Khan submitted to the committee as chairman from 2008 to 2013 on party finances “proved to be grossly inaccurate”.

It said the PTI received funds from several people and companies abroad, including business magnate Arif Naqvi, owner of a Dubai-based equity group, who is one of those accused by US prosecutors of participating in an international plan to attract investors. including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Naqvi has denied the allegations.

The commission said the party was “willing recipient of prohibited money” amounting to $2.1 million from Naqvi’s Wootton Cricket Limited, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.

It also identified several other foreign accounts in the United States, Britain, Australia, the UAE, Canada, Switzerland, and other countries that transacted into Khan’s party accounts.

The election commission’s ruling has been referred to the Pakistani government, which legal experts say could demand a Supreme Court ban on Khan and his party from politics. The court ordered the commission in 2017 to investigate the party’s accounts.

“We will challenge this ruling,” Khan’s party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, told reporters. He said the money was received from Pakistani nationals living abroad, which is not illegal.

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Khan was prime minister from 2018 until April this year, when he was forced to resign after losing a confidence vote he claimed was the result of an American conspiracy. The United States denied that.

Since then, he has called on his supporters to push through his demand for new elections. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected that demand.

“It is a clear case of fraud,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, leader of the Pakistani Muslim League of Sharif party.

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