FIA Fails to Establish Link Between Imran Khan, Prohibited Funding: IHC

Thu Apr 06 2023
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ISLAMABAD: In what could be seen as a major development in the prohibited funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has observed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) failed to link Khan with the prohibited funding his party is said to have received.


In a detailed judgment issued Wednesday, the division bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri held that the investigation agency could not produce “sufficient evidence” in support of its claim and the request seeking cancellation of Mr Khan’s bail. Earlier, a trial court had granted pre-arrest bail to Imran Khan in the prohibited funding case.


The FIA counsel argued before the court that during inquiry, it had transpired that Arif Masood Naqvi, owner of M/s Wootton Cricket Limited (WCL), UAE (registered in Cayman Islands), had transferred ill-gotten money to the tune of $2.12 million to a UBL account.


He said Naqvi who is the founder-owner of Abraaj Group, UAE, was imposed with a penalty by the Dubai Financial Services Authority for carrying out unauthorised activities in the Dubai International Financial Centre and misusing the investors’ money. Naqvi is also facing trial in USA and UK for defrauding investors, but PTI submitted an affidavit of Naqvi to the Election Commission of Pakistan stating that all the amounts collected in the WCL’s accounts were transferred to the party’s account in Pakistan.


The counsel argued that the affidavit was found to be false and forged while signatories and beneficiaries of the UBL account are Imran Khan and nine others. However, when the amount was transacted to the PTI’s account, 12 STRs (suspicious transaction reports) had to be reported by the UBL to the authorities concerned, but they didn’t perform their duties.


He alleged that UBL had not only facilitated these suspicious/illegal transactions but also allowed the ‘internet merchant acquiring agreement’ changing the account’s title to “Naya Pakistan” of the above referred PEP (politically exposed person’s) UBL account.

Naqvi is the founder-owner of Abraaj Group, UAE,


The FIA’s lawyer claimed that trial court had granted the pre-arrest bail to Khan without due deliberations.


The court held that the FIR only reflects two eventualities — one, Mr Naqvi gave an affidavit to the ECP regarding the foreign currency transferred to the PTI’s account but the said affidavit has been proved to be false as two more transactions were made from WCL to two different accounts in Pakistan in May 2013.


The court noted that this has nothing to do with Khan’s case as the FIA can investigate that the amount transacted by Naqvi is ill-gotten money and his affidavit was false but both these aspects were not probed till date.


“The second element, which was highlighted in the entire record, is the allegation against bank’s officials who have allegedly not reported regarding 12 CTRs/STRs to the concerned authorities despite receiving of huge amount in US$ in the PTI’s account which reflects that matter should fall within the mandate of State Bank of Pakistan being master regulator under SBP Act, 1956”, stated the court order.


The FIA failed to demonstrate “any of the regulation of the SBP where signatories of account in any scheduled bank are liable to prosecution,” it noted. As regards the allegation of changing PTI’s account with ‘Naya Pakistan’, the court ruled that it was not an offence at all.


The bench expressed surprise over the conduct of SBP officials, who have not yet inquired regarding the bank transactions being the master regulator, nor declared any of the banking transaction as illegal, neither investigation officer has ever recorded the statement of any of the official of the State Bank through which it could be demonstrated that any bank rules, regulations or circulars have been violated.


With regards to the contention of prosecution that Mr Khan has not yet joined the inquiry, the court noted that this could not be the reason for bail cancellation.


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