Secret donations 'no oversight' - Crown

John Banks
John Banks
John Banks deliberately kept "politically sensitive" donations from SkyCity and Kim Dotcom to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoralty bid anonymous, the Crown says.

Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre, QC, is today delivering his closing statement as Banks' trial on a charge of filing a false electoral return for the mayoralty campaign draws to a close.

"It's the Crown case that Mr Banks' failure to advise his team was not simply an oversight", Mr Dacre said of the accusations the Act MP knowingly received donations from Mr Dotcom and SkyCity that were recorded as anonymous.

In the High Court at Auckland, Mr Dacre said Banks took an active role in seeking to obscure the source of or his knowledge of donations that were "arguably the most politically sensitive".

Banks told police he signed the electoral return, which was prepared by campaign treasurer Lane Hutchison, after asking Mr Hutchison if everything in it was correct.

Mr Dacre said Banks "sought to insulate himself" from knowledge of the donations by seeking Mr Hutchison's assurances and not checking the donations section of the electoral return himself.

In May 2010, SkyCity boss Nigel Morrison called a short meeting with Banks and handed him a donation in a SkyCity envelope.

Banks told his PR man Scott Campbell to give the envelope to Mr Hutchison.

Evidence from SkyCity employees confirmed the company had no intention to keep the donation to Banks, or one made to his rival Len Brown, secret, Mr Dacre said.

In June that year, Banks visited Mr Dotcom's Coatesville mansion. Mr Dotcom said he offered to donate $50,000 to Banks' campaign but Banks asked for the money to be split so it could be recorded anonymously.

This was backed up by Mr Dotcom's former wife Mona Dotcom and his former bodyguard Wayne Tempero.

Mr and Mrs Dotcom said two to three weeks later Banks called Mr Dotcom and confirmed he received the money.

"Mr Banks engineered a situation where Mr Hutchison had no information regarding the source of the donation," Mr Dacre said.

After Mr Dotcom's high-profile arrest in 2012 on suspicion of copyright infringement, his lawyer Greg Towers said Banks had told him any assistance the MP gave to Mr Dotcom could backfire if knowledge of the 2010 donations became public.

This was "compelling evidence" Banks knew of the Dotcom donations, Mr Dacre said, and the defence suggestion that Mr Dotcom had orchestrated evidence as part of a campaign to bring down the government was a "conspiracy theory".

Mrs Dotcom and Mr Tempero were not under any control from Mr Dotcom, Mr Dacre said.

He said it would make no sense for Mr Dotcom not to follow up a $50,000 donation, or to split his donation unless he was advised to do so.

Banks is defending the charge before Justice Edwin Wylie and no jury.

The allegations against Banks relate to two $25,000 donations from Megastuff Ltd on Mr Dotcom's behalf in June 2010 and $15,000 from SkyCity in May that year.

Defence lawyer David Jones, QC, will make his closing statement after Mr Dacre.

- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ

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