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UK paper reveals PTI’s overseas funding by way of Arif Naqvi’s offshore firm

The combo exhibits PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi. 

LONDON: The Monetary Instances (FT) has revealed in an investigation that Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi’s Cayman Islands-incorporated firm Wootton Cricket Ltd was used to bankroll Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after receiving funds from corporations and people together with no less than £2mn in April 2013 from an influential Arab determine.

The FT stated in its report: “Pakistan forbids overseas nationals and corporations from funding political events, however Abraaj emails and inside paperwork seen by the Monetary Instances, together with a financial institution assertion overlaying the interval between February 28 and Could 30 2013 for a Wootton Cricket account within the UAE, present that each corporations and overseas nationals in addition to residents of Pakistan despatched hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to Wootton Cricket — earlier than cash was transferred from the account to Pakistan for the PTI.”

The Election Fee of Pakistan has been investigating the funding of the PTI for greater than seven years. In January, the ECP’s scrutiny committee issued a damning report during which it stated the PTI obtained funding from overseas nationals and corporations and accused it of under-reporting funds and concealing dozens of financial institution accounts. Wootton Cricket was named within the report, however Naqvi wasn’t recognized as its proprietor.

The FT claimed in its report by journalist Simon Clark that PTI’s overseas funding case has been alive for a number of years and Pakistani authorities had been conscious that Arif Naqvi funded the PTI however the final supply of the cash was being disclosed for the primary time.

The report stated: “Wootton Cricket’s financial institution assertion exhibits it obtained $1.3mn on March 14 2013 from Abraaj Funding Administration Ltd, the fund administration unit of Naqvi’s personal fairness agency, boosting the account’s earlier steadiness of $5,431. Later the identical day, $1.3mn was transferred from the account on to a PTI checking account in Pakistan. Abraaj expensed the fee to a holding firm by way of which it managed Okay-Electrical, the ability supplier to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest metropolis. An additional $2mn flowed into the Wootton Cricket account in April 2013 from a UAE persona, in response to the financial institution assertion and a replica of the Swift switch particulars.

“Naqvi then exchanged emails with a colleague about transferring $1.2mn extra to the PTI. Six days after the $2mn arrived within the Wootton Cricket checking account, Naqvi transferred $1.2mn from it to Pakistan in two instalments. Rafique Lakhani, the senior Abraaj government chargeable for managing money circulate, wrote in an e-mail to Naqvi that the transfers had been meant for the PTI,” the FT report revealed.

It stated the PTI obtained overseas funding forward of the 2013 common elections when Imran Khan wanted funding probably the most.

“It was a essential time for Khan to collect funds forward of the election scheduled for Could 2013, and Naqvi labored intently with different Pakistani businessmen to boost cash for his marketing campaign. The biggest entry in Wootton Cricket’s checking account within the months earlier than the election was the $2mn from the UAE determine.”

Screengrab of Imran Khan in 2012 bowling at the Wootton T20 Cricket Cup event at Arif Naqvi’s house in Oxfordshire. Courtesy Financial Times
Screengrab of Imran Khan in 2012 bowling on the Wootton T20 Cricket Cup occasion at Arif Naqvi’s home in Oxfordshire. Courtesy Monetary Instances

After Lakhani, the Abraaj government chargeable for money circulate, instructed Naqvi in an e-mail that the UAE sheikh’s cash had arrived, Naqvi replied that he ought to ship “1.2 million to PTI”.

Based on the FT, in one other e-mail to Lakhani after the Sheikh’s cash entered the Wootton Cricket account Naqvi wrote: “don’t inform anybody the place funds are coming from, ie who’s contributing”.

“Certain sir,” Lakhani responded.

He wrote that he would switch $1.2mn from Wootton Cricket to the PTI’s account in Pakistan. Then after contemplating sending the funds to the PTI by way of Naqvi’s private account, Lakhani proposed sending the cash in two instalments to a private account for businessman Tariq Shafi in Karachi and an account for an entity referred to as the Insaf Belief in Lahore.

Though the possession of the Insaf Belief is unclear, the emails state that the ultimate vacation spot was the PTI, stated the FT.

“Don’t eff this up rafiq,” Naqvi wrote in one other e-mail.

On Could 6 2013, Wootton Cricket transferred a complete of $1.2mn to Shafi and the Insaf Belief. Lakhani wrote in an e-mail to Naqvi that the transfers had been for the PTI, the FT stated in its investigative report.

Imran Khan confirms receiving funding

In response to the query despatched by the UK publication, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, in written solutions acknowledged that he had visited Arif Naqvi’s Wooton Place for “a fundraising occasion which was attended by many PTI supporters”.

Imran Khan confirmed that Tariq Shafi donated to the PTI.

“It’s for Tariq Shafi to reply as to from the place he obtained this cash.” Khan instructed the FT. Shafi didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The PTI chairman instructed the FT that neither he nor his social gathering was conscious of Abraaj offering $1.3mn by way of Wootton Cricket. He additionally stated he was “not conscious” of the PTI receiving any funds that originated from the UAE persona.

“Arif Naqvi has given an announcement which was filed earlier than the Election Fee additionally, not denied by anybody, that the cash got here from donations throughout a cricket match and the cash as collected by him was despatched by way of his firm Wootton Cricket,” Imran Khan wrote.

He instructed the paper he was ready for the decision of the election fee’s investigation. “It won’t be applicable to prejudge PTI,” the previous PM stated.

Arif Naqvi’s response to ECP

The FT stated that Arif Naqvi had instructed the ECP that he had “not collected any fund from any particular person of non-Pakistani origin, firm [public or private] or every other prohibited supply” however the financial institution assertion for Wootton Cricket contradicts his declare and present that Naqvi transferred three instalments on to the PTI in 2013 including as much as a complete of $2.12mn.

“The biggest was the $1.3mn from Abraaj which firm paperwork present was transferred to Wootton Cricket however charged to its holding firm for Okay-Electrical.

Akbar S Babar, who helped set up the PTI, instructed the FT that “prohibited funding occurred”.

Lobbying

The FT wrote that Arif Naqvi Naqvi lobbied the governments of Nawaz Sharif in 2016 and Imran Khan for backing for the sale of Karachi Electrical (KE).

It stated: “In 2016, he authorised a $20mn fee for Pakistan politicians to realize their assist, in response to US public prosecutors who later charged him with fraud, theft and tried bribery. The fee was allegedly meant for Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz, who changed Khan as prime minister in April. The brothers have denied any data of the matter. In January 2017, Naqvi hosted a dinner for Nawaz Sharif at Davos. After Khan turned prime minister, Naqvi met him. Whereas in workplace Khan criticised officers for delaying the sale of Okay-Electrical however the deal has nonetheless not been accomplished. Abraaj collapsed in 2018 after buyers together with the Gates Basis began investigating whether or not the corporate was misusing cash in a fund meant to purchase and construct hospitals throughout Africa and Asia.”

In 2019, US prosecutors indicted Naqvi and 5 of his former colleagues. Two former Abraaj executives have since pleaded responsible. Naqvi denies the costs. Naqvi was arrested at London’s Heathrow airport in April 2019 after coming back from Pakistan and faces as much as 291 years in jail if discovered responsible of the US fees. 

“Khan’s phone quantity was included on an inventory of contacts he handed to police — a reality talked about by legal professionals representing the US authorities throughout Naqvi’s extradition trial in London,” stated the FT.

Arif Naqvi bought his Wooton Place mansion in 2020 for £12.25mn. He didn’t reply to questions by the FT.

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