Police dismiss criticism of Banks probe

Last updated 18:43 11/06/2014

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Police have denied they mishandled the investigation into MP John Banks. 

The announcement comes after a barrage of criticism in the last week since Banks was found guilty of a filing false electoral return during his unsuccessful 2010 campaign to become mayor of Auckland. 

Police today issued a statement saying suggestions that ‘‘resourcing issues’’ meant they didn’t seek a Crown Law opinion on the case are ‘‘absolute nonsense’’.

Police said they deal with up to 140,000 prosecution cases a year and each matter is assessed on its merits. 

“Decisions to seek Crown Law opinions are operational matters for police and have nothing to do with resourcing.” 

A spokesman for the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) confirmed it had received complaints about the police decision not to prosecute but had waited until the verdict before looking into them.

They are considering investigating the police handling of the allegations against Banks following last week's guilty verdict.

Police decided in 2012 not to prosecute Banks, citing a lack of evidence, prompting retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready to launch a private prosecution that led to Banks being found guilty of filing a false electoral return.

Last week Banks was found guilty of  "transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in a material particular" related to three entries in the electoral returns for Banks' failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign.

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

Justice Wylie said he was not persuaded of the charge on the Sky City donation but he was "sure" that the charge had been proven in relation to Dotcom's donations.

The judge said he was "satisfied beyond reasonable doubt" that Banks either had actual knowledge of the Dotcom donations or he deliberately did not check the electoral return so the donations could be transmitted as anonymous.

Banks has announced his resignation from Parliament, effective from this Friday.

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