The treasurer for John Banks' failed 2010 Auckland
mayoralty bid did not know two sizeable donations to the
campaign team were from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, and
he did not ask Banks about them.
Lance Hutchison told the High Court at Auckland today he only
found out where the money came from after police told him.
Banks is defending a charge of filing a false electoral
return in what is expected to be a two-week hearing before
Justice Edwin Wylie, without a jury.
Banks is accused of knowingly receiving political donations
from Mr Dotcom and SkyCity that were recorded in official
returns as anonymous.
The allegations relate to two $25,000 donations from
Megastuff Ltd on Mr Dotcom's behalf in June 2010 and $15,000
from SkyCity in May of that year.
Mr Hutchison received the SkyCity cheque in a sealed
envelope. He said he phoned the person who signed it and they
asked for the donation to stay anonymous.
Mr Hutchison said he never asked Banks about donations and
didn't question him before he filled out the electoral
return, which Banks signed after asking Mr Hutchison if the
document was correct.
When the pair went through the document Mr Hutchison quickly
flicked through the donations section. The pair spent three
or four minutes discussing the expenses part.
“As far as I'm concerned, the return is true and correct –
still is today,” Mr Hutchison said
He revealed insights into how money was sought by the
campaign team, which aimed to find 10 people to each donate
$25,000. The National Business Review's annual rich list was
the first place they looked.
“That was out initial wish-list.”
Proceedings today were delayed by 90 minutes after protester
Sam Bracanov threw a bucket of mud at Banks as he arrived at
court, spattering Banks' face and suit jacket.
Former Act MP John Boscawen, who was attending the trial,
said Banks went home and changed into a fresh suit before
appearing in the dock.
This afternoon a police spokeswoman told APNZ: “No arrest has
been made yet but police are investigating and following
strong leads to locate and speak with the mud slinger.”
The Crown is expected to call 16 witnesses, including Mr
Dotcom, his now estranged wife Mona, SkyCity boss Nigel
Morrison and political insider Michelle Boag, who was also
part of Banks' 2010 campaign team.
Banks allegedly met with Mr Morrison, who handed him a cheque
in a SkyCity envelope. Banks has told police he had no
recollection of the meeting or of receiving a cheque from Mr
Morrison, Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre, QC, said.
The Crown also says that Banks went to Mr Dotcom's
Coatesville mansion, where Mr Dotcom offered to give him a
Banks instead asked for two $25,000 cheques, so he wouldn't
have to declare where the money came from, Mr Dacre said.
Banks' lawyer David Jones, QC, said the defence agreed there
was no contest that Banks was a candidate in 2010 and that he
filed a return.
But the two other points of law the Crown must prove, that
the return was false and Mr Banks knew that, were “at issue”.
“The defence case is that at all material times Mr Banks
considered that the return was true and correct, that he
acted honestly and with integrity throughout and that as far
as he was concerned, the return was accurate when it was
transmitted by Mr Hutchison on his behalf after Mr Banks has
signed it,” Mr Jones said.
If Banks is found guilty he faces a jail sentence of up to
two years or a $10,000 fine.
- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ