Dotcom aide backs mogul's story
Kim Dotcom's former security chief has confirmed that John Banks asked for a political donation in two $25,000 cheques so it could be kept anonymous.
Internet mogul Dotcom was called a liar in the High Court in Auckland today.
Banks' defence team suggested Dotcom had made up the story of two anonymous cheques story to attack the Government.
David Jones, QC, suggested the story was fabricated in revenge for the Government's collaboration with US authorities after Dotcom was arrested on criminal copyright infringement charges.
However, Dotcom's security chief, Wayne Tempero, confirmed Dotcom's account of his offer to donate to Banks' 2010 mayoral campaign at Dotcom's Coatesville mansion.
Tempero said Banks had explained that it was "better to make the donation anonymous so he could help [Dotcom] in the future".
Tempero said Dotcom had been "surprised" at the request as he "didn't mind putting his name on the cheque".
Banks is on trial in the High Court in Auckland on charges 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 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.
Dotcom told the court he offered Banks the $50,000 donation at a lunch at his mansion.
"He looked very surprised. They [Banks and Tempero] both had big eyes," Dotcom said.
Tempero said he "remembered thinking it was a lot of money".
Dotcom ordered a cheque prepared then and there, but Banks asked for it to be split into two cheques of $25,000, Dotcom said.
This "irritated" him as he had been prepared to make the donation publicly, but Banks told him if it was split he could keep it anonymous, Dotcom said.
Dotcom said he expected nothing for the donation, but he thought Banks was a friend and he would have a good network of connections for his future business endeavours.
The internet entrepreneur said he later spoke to Banks on the phone and Banks said he had received the donation "thank you very much".
Dotcom testified that he first met Banks when he flew him by helicopter to his mansion in June 2010.
Banks offered to help him with his residency application though Dotcom said he rejected this after consultation with his lawyers.
Dotcom said after the campaign donation, Banks told him he would talk to then minister Maurice Williamson about Dotcom's Overseas Investment Office application to buy three properties.
Banks later said Williamson had approved the application but it needed the approval of a second, unnamed, minister.
That second minister declined the application and Williamson changed his decision as well, Dotcom said.
Under cross-examination, Dotcom admitted he had several previous criminal convictions for computer hacking and data espionage in 1994 and for insider trading when he was in his mid-20s.
In a fiery exchange, Jones said Dotcom was a "liar" and the allegation that Banks told him to split the cheques to keep them anonymous was false.
Dotcom strenuously denied that he was lying.
Jones said Dotcom was unhappy with the Government and he knew Banks held a crucial seat in Parliament.
He accused Dotcom of revising his story to destroy the MP.
Dotcom denied the allegation, saying it would require a conspiracy of at least four people to accomplish, including his lawyer, Greg Towers, a partner at Simpson Grierson.
"Mr Banks is lying, not me," Dotcom said.
Dotcom said there was no other explanation for there being two cheques.
"I would have written one cheque for $50,000," Dotcom said.
Dotcom said he and Banks had spoken frequently on the phone and when Banks started publicly distancing himself from Dotcom he was "hurt as a friend".
"This was about correcting his wrong statements."
SKYCITY SOUGHT TO MEET BANKS AFTER LEN BROWN APPROACH
Earlier, political consultant and former National Party president Michelle Boag told the High Court SkyCity approached Banks in an effort to be "even-handed" in its political donations. It had already been approached by current Auckland Mayor Len Brown.
Boag solicited donations for Banks' bid to be mayor of the super-city.
SkyCity had been a "sensitive" subject as Banks was then mayor of Auckland City, she said.
Banks had told her not to approach the casino group, but it sought a meeting "after an approach from Brown", she said.
BANKS 'A MAN OF INTEGRITY'
Campaign treasurer Lance Hutchison told the court today that Banks was "an honest man" and "a man of integrity".
Hutchison yesterday said Banks never asked where anonymous donations came from.
He presented records that showed notations next to contributions such as "wants anonymous from Banksy". The note signified that certain donors wanted their contribution kept anonymous from the candidate, he said.
"They [anonymous donations] are made in such a way the candidate doesn't know who made them."
Hutchison said SkyCity asked that its donation be anonymous, but he did not know at the time that Dotcom had contributed money.
Dotcom's two $25,000 cheques were anonymous as they appeared in campaign bank accounts after being deposited via "Team Banksy 2010" deposit slips, he said.
Notations on the slips showed they had been deposited in the express drop-off box at an Albany, north Auckland, bank.
The trial was delayed yesterday after protester Sam Bracanov threw manure on Banks as he walked into court.
Auckland police said today they had arrested a man who yesterday threw a bucket of what appeared to be manure over Banks.
A spokeswoman confirmed the 78-year-old, who confronted the politician outside the High Court in Auckland, had been charged with common assault and would appear in Auckland District Court this afternoon.