Prohibited Foreign Funding case: Court hands over PTI leader on two-day physical remand to FIA

FIA prosecutor tells court that the accused misused his authority being general secretary of "The Insaaf Trust" which was registered in Lahore

A local magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk on Saturday granted physical custody of accused Hamid Zaman for two days to FIA in the prohibited funding case.

FIA team including Investigation Officer (I.O) Naeem Akhtar Assistant Director, and Imtiaz Niazi Sub Inspector along with FIA prosecutor, Munam Bashir Chaudhri Assistant Director, produced accused Hamid Zaman before Area Magistrate in Lahore and FIA requested for Physical Custody of accused for recovery of evidentiary items.

Munam Bashir Chaudhri first indicated the background of this case that earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan had found PTI in receiving prohibited funding through a unanimous decision in the Akbar S Babar case in June 2021 which was pending since November 14, 2014 over the same issue.

Wherein, the ECP noted that the matter falls within the ambit of Articles 17(3) and 6(3) of Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO). Article 17(3) says: “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law.”

Article 6(3) of the PPO states: “Any contribution made, directly or indirectly, by any foreign government, multinational or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals.”

The ECP also directed to initiate any other action under the law in light of this order of the commission, including forwarding the case to the federal government.” Hence FIA probed this matter as per law.

The prosecutor, Mr Chaudhri stated that the accused is well named in FIR being accused of misuse of his authority being general secretary of “The Insaaf Trust” which was registered in Lahore.

The prosecutor Munam Chaudhri argued, that though the objectives of this trust were mainly of creating general awareness among the masses and the welfare of the public, without any specific party but this trust was posed as part of PTI and it was misused, wherein, firstly, huge unexplained amounts in the shape of foreign currency were obtained through multiple foreign entities which were also undisclosed.

Then this amount was transferred to two private companies namely M/S Communication Spot ( 360,000,00 dated 09.05.2013) and M/s Group M ( 250,000,00 dated 10.05.2013) as payment of PTI through impersonation which is also prohibited under section five of FERA 1947 and punishable under section 23 of this act.

The prosecutor argued that the accused could not use the amount of trust for the political gains of any specific party as it was not the objective of this trust. Hence accused also misused his authority and committed a criminal breach of trust through cheating, fraud and misrepresentation in connivance with his co-accused persons.

The prosecutor added that the present accused used the trust as a “Money Mule” during the period between 2013 and 2014.

The prosecutor, Munam Ch stated that physical custody of the accused is required because recovery in the shape of documents of trust used in the commission of a crime are yet to be affected as pieces of evidence, in this case, are in the custody of present accused and the accused is reluctant to disclose the same.

Accused Hamid Zaman who is a business tycoon and PTI activist was arrested on October 7 by FIA Lahore in FIR No. 52/22 of FIA Commercial Banking Circle Lahore Dated 05 October 2022 which has been registered under sections 109, 406, 419,420, 468, 471 PPC read with 5 and 23 FERA.

Lawyers on the other side stated that the accused is an old man running a reputed business being the owner of a popular brand Bareeze. They argued that it was political victimization for PTI workers and leadership by the present government and opposed further remand.

The team of the accused was consisting of lawyers including, Khawaja Haris, Mian Irfan Akram Advocates Supreme Court, Hassan Shah and ten others.

The accused side contended on multiple grounds such as that sections 5, 23 of FERA 1947 are not attracted as money came through banking channels, 419, 420, can not come along with 406, no forgery has been committed by accused hence he is not accused of 468. Further contended that 406 is also not applicable.

They also raised the point that in para number 41, and 43 of the ECP had not mentioned the account of HBL from whom the payments were made to communication spot and Group M, and FIA launched the FIR with malafide just to harass, malign and political victimisation.

The accused side produced documents, case laws, and also a copy of the trust deed. They further agitated that no recovery is required as all transactions are already documented because all transactions were made through banking channels. Hence submitted a request for the discharge of the accused to the magistrate.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Wherein, the ECP noted that the matter falls within the ambit of Articles 17(3) and 6(3) of Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO). Article 17(3) says: “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law.”

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