Imran Khan says Arif Naqvi ‘bright star of Pakistan’

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has defended Arif Naqvi after the Financial Times made explosive claims that the defunct Abraaj founder was involved in sending illegal political funds to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, using an offshore company.

Speaking to a private channel, Imran Khan confirmed he has read the Financial Times article which made serious allegations of misuse and misappropriation of charitable funds.

Imran Khan defended Arif Naqvi and suggested that he was so successful and bright that he was brought down through a conspiracy.

Imran Khan linked Arif Naqvi’s rise and fall to that of Agha Hasan Abedi – the Pakistani who founded the Bank of Credit and Commercial International (BCCI) and saw its collapse after one of the biggest banking fraud scandals. Abidi’s bank collapsed and he was convicted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) court for fraud and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Supporters of Abidi have blamed a western conspiracy behind his fall.

 “Arif Naqvi’s case is a tragic case. It’s a big tragedy. Arif Naqvi is facing allegations, these are only allegations and there has been no trial yet. My heart says Arif Naqvi was rising fast. We saw the BCCI collapsing in front of our eyes. It was emerging as a bank and I remember that it was providing jobs to Pakistanis all over the world. There were branches of the BCCI all over the world.” 

“There were minor issues of money laundering and the whole bank collapsed. They even had assets. As far as I know Arif Naqvi didn’t cause loss to anyone. Monies were returned to all the lenders and the case against him is over some irregularity. Arif Naqvi has yet to face the trial at the court. For me the tragedy is that here is a Pakistan who was going up and making progress in the world.”

Imran Khan accepted for the first time that Arif Naqvi had funded the PTI but added that there was no illegality. He said: “These funds came to our party accounts. There is a full money trail that these funds came through banking channels and we have everything disclosed and audited. This happened in 2012 and there was no case against Arif Naqvi at that time. The poor Arif Naqvi was charged in 2019. I am talking about 2012 when he was a bright star of Pakistan.”

The former prime minister said: “Arif Naqvi was Pakistan’s rare kind of rising talent who would have benefited Pakistan more as he rose high. I have known him for around 25 years. As he made money and progressed, he developed his equity firm Abraaj. He then went into venture capital. He was set to benefit Pakistan and was helping Pakistanis a lot already. He was rising fast.

“Arif Naqvi gave a lot of money to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital. He used to live in Dubai and would always fund us for charity. In 2012 he organised two fundraising dinners for PTI; the one in London at his own ground (in Wootton) and then in Dubai he invited top businessmen. This is called political funding.”