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Labour: Banks got hotel discount

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 09:18 03/05/2012
John Banks
John Banks.

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Labour is refusing to back down from its claims ACT leader John Banks was given a discount at a Hong Kong hotel because of his association with German billionaire Kim Dotcom.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard yesterday claimed in Parliament Banks had accepted a discounted rate at the Grand Hyatt when he stayed there with his wife in December.

Dotcom, who the United States is trying to extradite on charges of internet piracy and money laundering, rented the top floor of the hotel for six years.

Through a spokeswoman, Banks this morning called on Mallard to repeat his claims outside Parliament, insisting they were defamatory.

Banks was charged full price for the room and the bill had been paid for on his wife's credit card, the spokeswoman said.

Mallard was "making up statements with no proof", she said.

"It is simply not true."

However, Mallard this morning called Banks' bluff. "I haven't seen anything to change my mind."

The invoice released by Banks showed he and his wife were charged $678 a night but the quoted room rate was $1303, Mallard said.

"My understanding is that he talked to Dotcom's team, (bodyguard Wayne) Tempero, and there was a recommendation made on his behalf.

"It is certainly my understanding that an arrangement was made and that he got a better deal as a result of it."

Banks is under police investigation over donations to his 2010 failed Auckland mayoralty campaign.

Police are looking into whether he knew the source of two $25,000 donations from Dotcom and $15,000 from Sky City which were declared as anonymous on his official return.

Earlier this week banks admitted he "obfuscated" on questions about the donations on legal advice - which he now regretted.

Banks previously said he barely knew the German billionaire but it has since been revealed he has flown in his helicopter, attended his birthday party, had lunch at his mansion and watched a fireworks display with him.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson yesterday admitted Banks lobbied him over Dotcom's failed application to buy his Coatesville mansion and two other properties.

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