Court can't find against John Banks, lawyer argues

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 11:29 04/04/2014
Year Ended
Fairfax NZ
JOHN BANKS: The ACT leader resigned as a minister in the face of charges.

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Former ACT leader John Banks only "flicked through" the electoral return that has landed him with criminal charges, the High Court has been told.

Banks' lawyer, David Jones, QC, today applied for a section 347 discharge for the MP, saying that on the evidence a court could not find against him.

Banks, who was not in court today, is scheduled for trial next month on a charge of "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 his failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign that were recorded as anonymous. Two of $25,000 were from internet mogul Kim Dotcom and one of $15,000 was from SkyCity, which the Crown says Banks knew.

Jones said evidence from a member of Banks' campaign team was that the candidate did not prepare the document and the only time he saw it was the night he signed it.

The staff member said: "Once the expenses had been checked, he flicked through the donations part.

"He might have glanced at them but he didn't read them."

Jones said it had to be proved that Banks knew of the falsity of the document when he signed it.

"There is no room for any inference adverse to Mr Banks to be drawn," he said.

Prosecutor Paul Dacre, QC, said Banks knew who the donations were from and he had tried to keep them anonymous.

Banks did not tell the person preparing the return who the donations were from and he had "made the decision not to supply the relevant information".

"It's more than turning a blind eye," Dacre said.

"The product is only as good as the information it is [made with with]."

Dacre said it was akin to not telling your accountant about something and then trying to get out of a charge of filing a false tax return.

Jones said no cheques were made out in Banks' presence and he was given only a promise of a donation from Dotcom with no way of knowing whether the donations occurred.

Banks resigned as a government minister in October after the Auckland District Court ruling that he should stand trial.

He has resigned as ACT leader and has said he will not contest this year's general election.

Justice Edwin Wylie reserved his decision.

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