The decision could lead to a ban on Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which has become known for its anti-corruption drive.
Khan, who analysts say had fallen out with military powers over the appointment of an intelligence chief in the run-up to his ouster earlier this year, was not immediately available for comment. A PTI party spokesman denied any wrongdoing.
The panel’s decision is a major setback for the former cricket star who is leading a campaign against the new government.
The case, filed in 2014 by Akbar S. Khan, a founding member of the PTI, accused the party of receiving illegal funds from abroad.
“The commission is satisfied that the contributions and donations were received by the respondent party from prohibited sources,” said the decision, seen by Reuters.
The commission said the party also concealed 13 accounts, adding that the statement submitted to the commission on the party’s finances by Khan as its president from 2008 to 2013 was “found to be grossly inaccurate”.
It said PTI received funds from different people and companies abroad, including business tycoon Arif Naqvi, owner of a Dubai-based equity group, who is among several people accused by US prosecutors of participating in an international scheme to defraud investors. including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Naqvi denied the charges.
The commission said the party was a “willing recipient of prohibited money” of $2.1 million from Naqvi’s Wootton Cricket Limited, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.
It also identified several other foreign accounts in the United States, Britain, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Switzerland and other countries, which transacted through Khan’s party accounts.
The election commission’s decision has been referred to Pakistan’s government, which could seek a Supreme Court ban on Khan and his party from politics, according to legal experts. The court ordered the commission in 2017 to audit the party’s accounts.
“We will challenge this decision,” Khan’s party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told reporters. He said the funds were received from Pakistani nationals living abroad, which is not illegal.
Since then, he has been rallying his supporters to press his demand for new elections. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif rejected this demand.
“This is a clear case of fraud,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.