Imran Khan campaigning in Karachi in 2013.— Athar Hussain/Reuters


Imran Khan campaigning in Karachi in 2013.— Athar Hussain/Reuters
  • Pakistani tycoon Arif Naqvi’s private equity firm Abraaj funded PTI, FT reports.
  • $2.12 million came to PTI from a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, now a government minister.
  • Wootton Cricket Ltd. used to funnel millions of dollars to PTI.

As the country awaits the verdict reserved by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) into the PTI’s prohibited funding, an expose by the Financial Times has blown the lid off Pakistani tycoon Arif Naqvi’s involvement in the party’s finances and how a significant portion of its funding in 2013 was of foreign origin.

According to the report, “Naqvi transferred three instalments directly to the PTI in 2013 adding up to a total of $2.12m”.

At the centre of the saga is Wootton Cricket Ltd, a Cayman Islands-incorporated company owned by Naqvi, and the money from charity fundraisers, such as the “Wootton T20 Cup”, to bankroll PTI.

Naqvi, the founder of the Dubai-based Abraaj Group, one of the largest private equity firms operating in emerging markets back when the PTI was campaigning for the 2013 elections, hosted the cricket tournament at his country estate in the Oxfordshire village of Wootton from 2010 to 2012, FT said.

The guests were asked to pay between £2,000 and £2,500 each to attend, according to the UK publication. Quoting, Naqvi, it added that that the money went to unspecified “philanthropic causes”.

“Funds poured into Wootton Cricket from companies and individuals, including at least £2mn from a United Arab Emirates government minister who is also a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family,” read the FT report.

Political parties in Pakistan are not permitted to receive funding from foreign nationals and companies, but Wootton Cricket account details and emails seen by FT for the period between February 28 and May 30, 2013, reveal that both companies and foreign nationals, as well as Pakistanis, sent millions of dollars to Wootton Cricket after which funds were transferred to the PTI in Pakistan.

The ECP had been probing the party’s funding since 2014, when party founder Akbar S Babar alleged major irregularities in the party’s finances, including in funding from outside Pakistan.

ECP has now concluded the case after seven years of trial. The date the verdict will be announced is yet to be revealed.

In January, the ECP’s scrutiny committee issued a damning report in which it said the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies. The report said the PTI under-reported funds and hid dozens of bank accounts. Wootton Cricket was named in the report, but Naqvi had not been identified as its owner.

More to follow.


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