Dotcom called a liar at John Banks trial

John Banks (TV3)

Testy exchanges were made between John Banks' lawyer David Jones QC and witness Kim Dotcom in the Auckland High Court today. 

Mr Dotcom was called to give evidence about his apparent electoral donation to Mr Banks' 2010 mayoral campaign. Much of today's questioning of Mr Dotcom centres on his second meeting with Mr Banks during which Mr Dotcom says he was told to write two separate cheques to make up $50,000 in donations. 

Mr Banks' lawyer questioned Mr Dotcom over his former convictions and actions as a hacker in his youth, to which Mr Dotcom objected.

The internet tycoon was told by Justice Ed Wylie to only answer the questions asked by Mr Banks' lawyer. Mr Dotcom was told to ask for a break if he felt too upset. 

At one point the internet tycoon muttered "I have wondered for some time how all of this is relevant."

"You are a liar, Mr Dotcom," Mr Jones' said, referring to Mr Dotcom's recollections of events at the mansion on the day Mr Dotcom says he ordered for cheques to be made to Mr Banks' campaign. 

"You are wrong," Mr Dotcom retorted.

"It is not appropriate for you to engage in argument with Mr Jones," Justice Wylie told Mr Dotcom. 

Today's hearing has revealed more about Mr Banks' fallout with Mr Dotcom, following several meetings and parties they both attended. Mr Dotcom says Mr Banks had offered to help him with his residency application, which he declined after taking legal advice. Mr Dotcom also says Mr Banks had attempted to help with OIO approval of several properties, which was originally signed off by Maurice Williamson but later fell through. 

Mr Dotcom told the court that following the raid on his home he had asked Mr Banks for help making prison more comfortable. He told the court for a person of his weight sleeping on what was essentially a concrete slab covered by a thin piece of foam was uncomfortable. 

"All I wanted was prison staff to take care of my health and treat me humanely," Mr Dotcom told the court. However, the internet tycoon says Mr Banks did not return his call requesting help in prison, and the two had not spoken since. 

Mr Jones told the court Mr Dotcom was upset with Mr Banks' actions and was manipulating to "reconstruct" what happened at the mansion that day to his liking. 

"I think you are describing the government and not me," Mr Dotcom retorted. 

The trial, expected to last two weeks, is for allegedly filing a false electoral return. The Crown claims Mr Banks filed a false return after the 2010 Auckland mayoral election. Under the local government electoral law at the time, it was an offence to list a donor as anonymous if a candidate knew their identity.

The internet tycoon told the court he offered to make a donation of $50,000 on his second meeting with Mr Banks, during which head of security Wayne Tempero was present. 

"[Mr Banks] looked very surprised, so did Wayne, they both had big eyes, probably because of the amount."

The case continues and is expected to last two weeks. Mr Dotcom's estranged wife, Mona Dotcom, and former head of security Wayne Tempero are yet to give evidence. 

Boag on Banks
Former National Party president Michelle Boag also gave evidence this morning about her involvement in the campaign.

Ms Boag told the court she had known Mr Banks since he first stood for National more than 30 years ago and would count him as a friend, although said they are not close.

The PR consultant described Mr Banks as honest and “very direct and forthright,” as well as generous.

She says her primary responsibility during the campaign was fundraising but was also focused on expenditure and the prescribed legal limits.

As she told the District Court, she might have flicked through the donation records but did not have a complete picture.

Ms Boag says in 2009 the initial targeting of individuals to approach for donations was discussed and involved circling names she identified that she could approach in the NBR Rich List 2008.

She described the targeting as a “team effort” between her, Mr Banks and treasurer Lance Hutchinson.

Ms Boag told the court Mr Banks had not mentioned Mr Dotcom to her while they were seeking donations.

“I never knew who Dotcom was until he was arrested.”

What do you think? Should John Banks have pressed charges against mud-slinger? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

vyoung@nbr.co.nz

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