Closing arguments heard in Banks trial

Last updated 14:40 29/05/2014
JOHN BANKS
Lawrence Smith
GUILTY AND GONE: MP John Banks.

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Kim Dotcom attempted to pervert the course of justice to bring down John Banks and the Government, Banks' lawyer says.

However, the Crown said Banks had manipulated the system, during closing arguments at his trial in the High Court in Auckland today.

Banks, the Epsom MP and former leader of the ACT Party, 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 his failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign.

The donations were recorded as anonymous, but the Crown says Banks knew two donations of $25,000 each were from internet entrepreneur Dotcom and one of $15,000 was from SkyCity.

Banks has denied the charges.

His lawyer David Jones, QC, said it was not his client who should be under the microscope.

"This is very much a case about corruption but it's not Mr Banks who is corrupt," Jones said.

He went further and said Dotcom and others giving evidence against Banks were attempting to pervert the course of justice; "something that's a corruption of the criminal justice process, and the corruptor is the one making the allegations".

Prosecutor Paul Dacre, QC, said Banks knowingly "camouflaged" the source of the donations. In the case of the SkyCity donation Banks gave the cheque to a middleman rather than directly to his campaign treasurer, Lance Hutchison. Hutchison had been "10 paces away".

"Banks engineered the situation so Hutchison had no information and could not list them as anything other than anonymous," Dacre said.

"Failure to advise was not simply an oversight."

Dacre also attacked the defence's "conspiracy theory" that Dotcom was bent on bringing down the Government.

None of the witnesses, including Dotcom's estranged wife, Mona Dotcom, were under Kim Dotcom's control, he said.

"If they were, he and Mona would still be together."

The defence had sought to expose differences in witnesses' evidence about when donations were made.

However, Dacre said it was "trite" to suggest they were unreliable because their memory from four years ago was imperfect.

Jones said the disparities provided a gaping hole in the Crown's case, which suggested collusion.

"How can Mona Dotcom talk about something she did not witness? She must have been told and that must have been by her husband," he said.

"It fatally undermines the case, if it needed any more fatal undermining."

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There was a major shortcoming in the Crown's case - a motive, Jones said.

"It's not an essential element of an offence but normally there's some sort of motive - but there's none here," he said.

"None asserted and none plausibly available."

Jones said Kim Dotcom was "the complete contrast" to Banks in terms of character.

He listed Kim Dotcom's criminal history, which included hacking offences in 1994 and insider trading in 2003.

Despite claiming he did not know about the Government's one-seat majority, Jones said it gave Kim Dotcom "compelling motivation to fabricate evidence and manipulate those he can to go along with what he devised".

"He blames the Government for his predicament," he said.

"He considers his friend Mr Banks deserted him."

Justice Edwin Wylie reserved his decision and will deliver his verdict on Thursday next week.

- Stuff

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