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Banks: Dotcom offered $200k

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 17:35 22/05/2014
LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff.co.nz

Kim Dotcom's estranged wife, Mona, has been giving evidence at the trial of John Banks.

John Banks case
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
JOHN BANKS: Facing charges relating to whether he knew the source of donations to his 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty. On May 19 he had manure thrown over him on his way in to court.
IN COURT: John Banks.
PETER MEECHAM
IN COURT: John Banks.

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John Banks had "no memory" of receiving a cheque from SkyCity executives, the MP told police.

Banks' police interview, played to the High Court in Auckland today, culminated in officers putting SkyCity's and Kim Dotcom's versions of events to the former ACT leader.

Police put it to Banks that SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison had said he "handed to you a cheque for $15,000".

"I have no knowledge of that," Banks replied.

"I have no memory of this."

Confronted with Dotcom's allegations that Banks asked him to make a donation in two cheques for anonymity, Banks replied: "We know that's humbug.

"You know he could have given me a million [anonymously]."

Banks later said he had "no recollection" of ringing Dotcom to thank him for his donation.

Banks told police he had rejected an offer of $200,000 from the internet mogul because he thought it was an "outrageous" amount of money.

The court has heard multiple witnesses testify that Banks received a $50,000 donation from Dotcom and that he asked for it to be divided into two $25,000 cheques so it could remain anonymous.

SkyCity executives have testified that they gave Banks a cheque at a lunch where they also donated to Len Brown, his rival in the race to be mayor of the Auckland super-city in 2010.

Banks is on trial for "transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in a material particular".

The charge relates to three entries in the electoral returns for Banks' failed mayoral campaign that were recorded as anonymous.

The Crown says Banks knew two donations of $25,000 were from Dotcom and one of $15,000 was from SkyCity.

Banks told police he met Dotcom when he flew out to his Coatsville mansion for a lunch.

"He's a very interesting man and he's on another planet."

At a second meeting at the mansion, Banks said he asked Dotcom for campaign support.

"He offered me $200,000 and said, 'I can give you great access to social media'."

Banks told police he couldn't use the internet. Before he realised "social media" meant Twitter and Facebook, he thought it had something to do with the many young women who were hanging around the mansion.

He said he thought $200,000 was "outrageous". "Come on, this is New Zealand," he said.

"I just don't think it's right in New Zealand that we can accept huge amounts of money."

Banks said he asked for $25,000 and Dotcom acted "nonplussed - not excited - I don't even recall him saying yes."

"I said, 'you can, if you want, give me more through other entities."'

Questioned about the SkyCity donation, Banks told police he understood the contribution to his campaign was made anonymously, but Brown's donation had been publicly declared.

He said he was not aware of where the cheque was received.

Banks told police anonymous donations were "kept at arm's length".

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He had not cross-checked his electoral returns as he had complete confidence in campaign treasurer Lance Hutchison - "a very good man, very methodical".

The only cheque written in front of him was a $10,000 donation from Dick Langridge, of Metropolitan Rental Cars, Banks said.

That donation was recorded in electoral returns.

Banks said he asked "hundreds" of people for money for his campaign.

"I'd talk to the man on the street and say, 'where's your money?' ... in a nice way."

He wrote thank-you letters to everyone who donated - it was important because he wanted to be able to go back and ask them for more, he said.

Banks told police the super-city mayoral campaign was "mind-bending in workload" for 18 months.

"I'd never do it again, especially if I knew I was going to lose," Banks said.

The trial continues.

- Stuff

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