Imran Khan's PTI funded by foreign cricket company?

Published on Jul 29, 2022 12:41 PM IST

As per the law, foreign nationals and companies are barred from funding political parties in Pakistan. However, the internal documents accessed by the website show millions of dollars were transferred to Imran Khan's party between February 28 and May 30 from Wootton Cricket's bank account.

A file photo of Imran Khan bowling at Wootton Cricket T20 Cup in Oxfordshire in 2012. (Twitter/@st_aubrun)
A file photo of Imran Khan bowling at Wootton Cricket T20 Cup in Oxfordshire in 2012. (Twitter/@st_aubrun)
By | Written by Aryan Prakash

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan crafted his political career on the plank of anti-corruption crusade. But the former cricket captain is now in the eye of a storm, this after allegations of dubious funding of his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf via a cricket tournament have surfaced, The Financial Times reported.

In early 2010s, Khan was invited by Pakistani business tycoon Arif Naqvi to Wootton, a village in the British county Oxfordshire for a weekend. The event was hosted by Abraaj Group, fund management unit of Naqvi's equity firm. Later, he presided over Wootton T20 Cup, a league between teams with quirky names like Peshawar Perverts and Faisalabad Fothermuckers. Veteran cricket commentator Henry Blofeld attended along with expert umpires and film crews, the website reported.

Imran Khan told the website that he had gone to Wootton for a fundraising event also attended by many supporters of his party. He even took the field and bowled during an event.

The guests were asked to pay between 2,000-2,500 pounds to attend the event, claimed to be hosted for 'philanthropic causes'. However, the fees were paid to Wootton Cricket Limited, the firm owned by Naqvi which was incorporated in the Cayman Islands. The money was used to fund Khan's party PTI. The firm received funds from several companies and individuals including a UAE minister and member of the Abu Dhabi royal family who contributed two million British pounds.

As per the law, foreign nationals and companies are barred from funding political parties in Pakistan. However, the internal documents accessed by the website show millions of dollars were transferred to Imran Khan's party between February 28 and May 30 from Wootton Cricket's bank account.

The Pakistan poll panel is already probing the funding of PTI since years. In January this year, the election commission in a report alleged that the then ruling PTI received funds 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.

As per the report, Wootton Cricket received $1.3 million from Abraaj Investment Management Ltd on March 14, 2013. On the same day, the money was allegedly transferred to a PTI bank account in Pakistan.

In April that year, Wootton Cricket received $2 million from UAE minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan, who is also the chair of Pakistan's Bank Alfalah.

The website accessed emails between Naqvi and a colleague about transferring $1.2 million to Khan's party. Six days after Wootton received $2 million, he transferred $1.2 million from it to Pakistan in two instalments.

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