Dotcoms to give evidence at Banks trial

Last updated 08:39 20/05/2014
Mona Dotcom
Mona Dotcom
The protester threw manure across John Banks' suit.
John Banks' appearance in the High Court was delayed after the protester threw manure across his suit.

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Internet millionaire Kim Dotcom and his recently estranged wife Mona are to take the stand today to give evidence in the trial of ACT MP John Banks.

Banks is facing charges in the High Court in Auckland relating to whether he knew the source of donations to his 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty. A $15,000 donation from SkyCity and two $25,000 cheques from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom were recorded as anonymous.

Dotcom is scheduled to take to the stand first this morning, followed by his wife Mona, from whom he announced his separation with last week.

Today is expected to be the first time the couple have been together since Dotcom sent a tweet confirming the separation and asking for privacy.

Dotcom has previously given evidence in the District Court that Banks asked him to split a $50,000 donation in two so each cheque could be listed as anonymous.

He said that when he asked why the donations were to be listed as anonymous, Banks told him: "Kim, if I help you in the future it's better no-one knows about your donation".

Yesterday morning, prosecutors told the court Banks met with the high-profile donors to "engineer" a way for their donations to be made anonymously.

Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre QC said Banks held separate meetings, one with Dotcom and another with a SkyCity executive, and asked each to make donations in such a way that they would appear anonymous.

"He engineered the situation to ensure the identity of the donors would not be disclosed," Dacre said.

He said that during a lunch with Dotcom and his wife, Banks asked for a $50,000 donation to be split into two cheques.

Banks did not recall the other meeting with a SkyCity executive relating to donations, Dacre said.

The defence argues Banks believed the electoral expense returns were "true and correct" when filed.

The start of the case was delayed yesterday after an elderly man, later identified as royal protester Sam Bracanov, threw a bucket of manure on the politician as he arrived at the court.

Banks returned to court wearing a clean suit an hour later. He said last night he would not press charges against Bracanov.

Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said police were aware of the incident and had spoken to witnesses.

Banks' trial is the result of a private prosecution brought by retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready.

Banks is charged with "transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in a material particular".

The case is set down for 10 days, and the Crown will call 16 witnesses.

Banks quit ACT's leadership position and his ministerial role last year after he was ordered to stand trial.

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