20 May 2014

Dotcom denies Govt attack through Banks

9:44 pm on 20 May 2014

Internet businessman Kim Dotcom has denied trying to attack the New Zealand Government by making allegations against ACT MP John Banks.

Mr Dotcom was giving evidence at the High Court in Auckland, where the MP for Epsom is on trial for filing a false electoral return after his failed bid for the Auckland mayoralty in 2010. He denies the charge.

Internet businessman Kim Dotcom.

Kim Dotcom said he was told to split the donation. Photo: AFP

The Crown's case is that Mr Banks knew of the $50,000 donation from Mr Dotcom and $15,000 from SkyCity, although the return listed them as anonymous.

On Tuesday, Kim Dotcom told the court about two meetings at his mansion in Coatesville with John Banks.

Mr Dotcom said for the first meeting he sent his helicopter down to Auckland to pick up Mr Banks and fly him to the house. Another meeting in June 2010 involved Mr Banks and his wife driving up for lunch. During that meal, Mr Dotcom said Mr Banks mentioned he was running for mayor again and was raising funds for his campaign.

Mr Dotcom said he offered the politician $50,000 and told the court he made out two cheques for $25,000 to the campaign. He said Mr Banks told him that it would be better for the cheques to be recorded as anonymous.

Mr Dotcom said he was unhappy with the plan, but thought there was a limit of $25,000 before a donor had to be identified. He said he later called Mr Banks to confirm that the donation had been received.

The court was told Mr Dotcom offered the money because he appreciated Mr Banks' offer of help with his residency application and also felt that the MP's business contacts could be helpful in his future business concerns.

John Banks announcing he will stand down as ACT leader.

John Banks denies filing a false return. Photo: RNZ

Kim Dotcom has been arrested on copyright infringement charges and said he had no contact from Mr Banks after this. He said he came forward after the story broke that Mr Banks received a donation from SkyCity recorded as anonymous.

Under cross-examination by Mr Banks' lawyer David Jones, QC, Mr Dotcom admitted he had a string of offences, including computer hacking and insider trading, but denied that he was a liar or wanted to bring down the Government by making accusations against the MP.

Mr Jones asked if Mr Dotcom was trying to get at the Government because it had helped US authorities with the arrest. But Mr Dotcom replied he was telling the truth about Mr Banks wanting the donation to be kept anonymous.

He denied a suggestion from Mr Jones that he never gave John Banks any commitment about a donation. "That is completely false. He knew that I would, he knew that the cheques are coming to be signed."

Mr Jones accused Mr Dotcom of attacking the Government by attacking John Banks. Mr Dotcom said he was hurt because he counted Mr Banks as a friend. At one point, Justice Wylie had to remind Mr Dotcom to answer questions. Mr Dotcom apologised, saying he was getting a little upset.

Offers of help

Kim Dotcom also spoke about his relationship with John Banks and said the MP offered to help the Dotcom family with their residency application. Mr Dotcom turned the offer down after getting legal advice.

Mr Dotcom said Mr Banks also offered to help him with the Overseas Investment Office which was looking into his application to buy the Coatesville mansion. He said Mr Banks told him he would get National MP Maurice Williamson to help in the matter.

He also spoke about offering Mr Banks his floor at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong when Mr Banks was on holiday with his wife. Mr Banks declined the offer, but Mr Dotcom helped him get a 50 percent discount on a suite and he used Mr Dotcom's driver.

Mr Dotcom said he was happy to donate to Mr Banks because he hoped to use Mr Banks' business contacts. He said he was also impressed with the MP's outlook on the New Zealand economy which Mr Banks said was focused on growing grass and making milk. He said instead, Mr Banks talked about growing the IT sector.

Mr Dotcom told the court that when he was arrested and put in Mt Eden prison he had approached John Banks to try and get help for his back problems made worse by the thin prison mattresses. He said Mr Banks never got in contact.

Meanwhile, Mr Banks' election treasurer says a $50,000 donation from Mr Dotcom's company never passed through his hands.

Lance Hutchison on Monday told the High Court that Mr Banks did not have time to read his donations return which was filed after he lost the Auckland mayoralty race.

Under questioning from Justice Wylie on Tuesday, Mr Hutchison told the court that the money from Mr Dotcom's company simply showed up in the campaign account and they did not know where it came from.