Banks: I never pay full price at hotels

DANYA LEVY AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 16:48 03/05/2012
John Banks
John Banks.

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ACT leader John Banks says he negotiated the price of a Hong Kong hotel room which Labour claims was discounted because of his association with German billionaire Kim Dotcom.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard yesterday claimed in Parliament that Banks had accepted a discounted rate at the Grand Hyatt when he stayed there with his wife in December.

Mallard today refused to back down from the claim. "I haven't seen anything to change my mind," he said.

Dotcom, who the United States is trying to extradite on charges of internet piracy and money laundering, rented the top floor of the hotel for six years.

"The hotel room was quite expensive," Banks told reporters this afternoon.

"I always negotiate prices down. I don't believe in paying the rack rate in a hotel."

Banks said he did not use his association with Dotcom to get the price down.

Asked if he was going to take legal action in light of Mallard's comments this morning, he replied: "He hasn't said what he said in Parliament on the steps of Parliament."

Through a spokeswoman, Banks this morning called on Mallard to repeat his claims outside Parliament, insisting they were defamatory.

Banks was not given a discount price for the room and the bill had been paid for on his wife's credit card, the spokeswoman said.

Mallard was "making up statements with no proof", she said.

"It is simply not true."

MALLARD STANDS BY CLAIM

The invoice released by Banks showed he and his wife were charged $678 a night but the quoted room rate was $1303, Mallard said.

>See the accommodation invoice here.

"My understanding is that he talked to Dotcom's team, (bodyguard Wayne) Tempero, and there was a recommendation made on his behalf.

"It is certainly my understanding that an arrangement was made and that he got a better deal as a result of it."

Inquiries to the Grant Hyatt by Fairfax found the room Banks and his wife stayed in last December is charged during that period at a non-refundable rate of $817 and a refundable rate of $907.

Banks is under police investigation over donations to his 2010 failed Auckland mayoralty campaign.

Police are looking into whether he knew the source of two $25,000 donations from Dotcom and $15,000 from Sky City which were declared as anonymous on his official return.

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Earlier this week banks admitted he "obfuscated" on questions about the donations on legal advice - which he now regretted.

Banks previously said he barely knew the German billionaire but it has since been revealed he has flown in his helicopter, attended his birthday party, had lunch at his mansion and watched a fireworks display with him.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson yesterday admitted Banks lobbied him over Dotcom's failed application to buy his Coatesville mansion and two other properties.

RADIO ADVERTISING AN 'ANONYMOUS DONATION'

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has questioned why $15,000 of radio advertising was declared an 'anonymous donation' by John Banks.

In parliament this afternoon Mr Mallard asked if Mr Banks gave assurances to Prime Minister John Key's office about the advertising donation to the campaign.

''Because radio advertisements must be approved by the candidate or his nominee how can the donation of them be anonymous?,'' he told Stuff.

''It seems absolutely weird. The most likely explanation is it is a freebie from a radio station. But even then, if they are saying we are giving you advertising then that is not anonymous.

''If it pretends to be anonymous and it's not, then that is a breach of a law.''

He said he raised the matter in his complaint to police last week.

Records show Banks - a former Radio Pacific breakfast host - declared a gift of $15,690 of ''radio advertising''.

The question was directed at Deputy Prime Minister Bill English - standing in for Prime Minister John Key - and so Banks has not had a chance to respond.

English told the House: ''There were no assurances sought or received about the details of any particular donations.''

He told Mallard to wait for the conclusion of the police investigation.

NZ First MP Winston Peters alleged the National party are conducting polling in Banks Epsom electorate asking "Who would you vote for?"

Peters said it was ''an ominous sign'' Banks' assurances are not being accepted by Key.

National insiders rejected the suggestion they are polling.


- © Fairfax NZ News

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