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John Banks found guilty

LATEST: ACT leader: 'We must accept the court’s decision'

John Banks says he is surprised and disappointed by a guilty verdict against him delivered today. 

The MP, found guilty of filing a false electoral return, gave a brief statement outside court today about the verdict delivered by Justice Ed Wylie. 

Mr Banks, facing a media scrum of about 30, referenced a 1930s song, saying in life a little rain must fall. 

Rain is still falling on him, he told media outside the Auckland High Court.

Mr Banks says his legal team will review the decision and consider all options. 

He was found guilty of ‘‘transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it was false in a material particular.’’

The charge relates to entries on the electoral returns for Banks’ failed 2010 Auckland Super City mayoral campaign.

The Crown alleges Mr Banks knew that a $15,000 donation was from SkyCity and two $25,000 donations were from Kim Dotcom. The donations were recorded as anonymous on a signed declaration.

Mr Banks now faces a fine of up to $10,000 and/or two years in jail. His next court appearance for sentence is scheduled August 1. 

Having been found guilty of an offence punishable by prison, he will now have to resign his seat, whether or not he is actually sent to prison. His one out would be if he was discharged without conviction.

Justice Wylie told the court he believed the evidence of Dotcom witnesses in the John Banks' trial. 

Justice Wylie gave his decision in the High Court at Auckland today. Mr Banks appeared emotionless in the dock in a packed out courtroom this afternoon. 

The judge found Mr Banks knew that recording of the Dotcom donation was false. 

Justice Wylie said the evidence of the Dotcom witnesses surrounding events at the Dotcon mansion about how Mr Banks told Mr Dotcom to split the donation in two was accepted, and that the further testimony of Mr Dotcom's lawyer, Greg Towers, was compelling. The judge rejected Mr Banks' lawyer David Jones' argument that the evidence was all a fiction as part of Mr Dotcom's aspirations to bring down Prime Minister John Key. 

In relation to the Sky City donation, the judge found that Mr Banks knew that there was a donation but was not convinced that he actually knew it was false when it was transmitted. 

He said there was a possibility Mr Banks might have thought treasurer Lance Hutchison knew enough to record the donation as from SkyCity but may have abstained from further enquiry simply because he was careless or because he knew what the answer would be. 

Mr Banks will attend a sentencing hearing on August 1 but remains on remand at large.

ACT ssoldiers on
ACT Party president John Thompson released a statement expressing dissapointment at the guilty verdict.

“While ACT had nothing to do with Mr Banks 2010 mayoral campaign we have always found him to be a man of integrity,” Mr Thompson says.  

“If John Banks is forced to resign as MP for Epsom, the ACT Party is going to ensure the people of Epsom are still represented.  The party will take over Mr Banks’ electorate office and will ensure voters are able to have constituency issues handled by David Seymour, ACT's Epsom candidate in the forthcoming general election."

He later told NBR ONLINE, he suspects Mr Banks will appeal but is not sure. 

Mr Thompson said the verdict was not the “ideal result” but was unlikely to weigh that heavily come September.

“I don’t think it has damaged us at all because John had already announced his retirement and ACT is very much a new team.”

“We are going ahead with our plans, as we have set out to do.”

Should Banks appeal or resign? Vote in NBR's BUSINESS PULSE poll.

EARLIER: The actions of a retired accountant could bring down a politician today.

Justice Ed Wylie will today give his verdict on whether John Banks is guilty of ‘‘transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it was false in a material particular.’’

Graham McCready brought the charges against the MP although later the Crown took over.

The charge relates to entries on the electoral returns for Banks’ failed 2010 Auckland Super City mayoral campaign.

The Crown alleges Mr Banks knew that a $15,000 donation was from SkyCity and from two $25,000 donations were from Kim Dotcom. The donations were recorded as anonymous on a signed declaration.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of more than two years in prison, or a fine of $10,000. 

Political commentator Bryce Edwards says this situation is unprecedented in the New Zealand jurisdiction.

“This is new territory for us and I don’t think there’s any room for any real challenge of the fact John Banks will be removed from Parliament.

However Dr Edwards says in terms of the government it won’t mean a great deal because there is not a lot of legislation to pass before now and the election.

He says it is highly unlikely for there to be a by-election as the vacancy would occur six months from the election date. 

Should Banks appeal or resign? Vote in NBR's BUSINESS PULSE poll.

LATEST: ACT leader: 'We must accept the court’s decision'

RAW DATA: Judgment (PDF)329 KB

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Comments and questions

If Banks is brought down, it will be as a result of his own actions, not those of a retired accountant. But we all owe a debt of gratitude to Graham McCready for taking the initiative and shaming Crown Law into doing something.

...and if he isn't brought down?

Bah Humbug. What a load of codswallop!

Hate to agree, and I say anything remotely positive about McCreedy through clenched teeth, but the Crown refusal to do anything on this kinda stunk of old boys club, circle the wagons type behaviour. Pretty shameful really.

The deprived and disconnected get hung out to dry on a daily basis in this country for far lesser sins.

Completely agree, Well done.

LOL tiny token of justice really compared to what they get away with,

It is shameful that a private citizen had to bring this case before the courts. The government should have enforced the law and ordered the investigation.

Seems like you have a fantastic grasp on the role of Government in NZ! The Government passes laws it does not enforce them. There is a total separation of duties and for good reason.

Yes...there should be.

Which is why the whole treatment of Dotcom has been so shameful...e.g. the Customs Department "feed Dotcom info to FBI for brownie points" fiasco.

The whole shameful episode has been most dangerous for our country because of the embarrassing blurring of lines between the government and the judiciary.

Graham McCready really needs to find something better to do with his time.
Why doesnt he take up the crown case vs dotcom?

Because he knows the crown is going to lose.

Because the crown has lost already. Being a US puppet does not guarantee success.

With a couple of barristers, a string of lawyers, and the cost of Judge Ned Wylie plus the cost of the court, the total cost of that fiasco to the people runs out at more than $100,000 and John Banks will possibly walk away a mere $10,000 lighter in the pocket

It is never a fiasco when an overweening member of the ruling classes is laid low. It is a victory for the people.

"Ruling classes"? Good grief, isn't it time you threw away your cloth cap?

More likely the crown assessed the $450,000 (made up figure) of taxpayers money they would need to spend to bring this to trial and decided that for a politician who was about to retire that it was just not justifiable to spend that sort of money on it.

Regardless of cost corruption must always be exposed - otherwise we become a third world country.

As versus his opponent who made 80% of his donations anonymous in 2 consecutive elections? Your judgement of corruption is somewhat flawed methinks.

Two wrongs make a right?

On the contrary - corruption on all fronts SHOULD be fought if we are to preserve what is great about New Zealand. Having lived in third world countries, the comparative lack of corruption in New Zealand is a major plus, and something we should be fighting to protect.

It is sad that the public sector has chosen not to do so on some occasions.

Wonder what would have been the outcome should this case had been heard by a Jury of his peers?

A jury of corrupt hypocritical sell out politicos? They would be his peers.As Charles the First said "I see no Kings here!"

Good question. It was a huge call to run a defence that Mr Banks is a man of integrity and all the rest are scumbags, but then not put the honourable gentleman into the witness box.

This is good news for the people who are finally getting some traction in ensuring that politicians obey the laws that they helped to create. Next we need the various complaints made during the previous election to go to court; and to find out who Cunliffe's secret donors are.

And possibly find out who funded Brown? Who despite this fiasco *still* laundered a few hundred thousand dollars of donations through a secret trust in the next election?

If anyone in that election stunk of corruption it wasn't the loser.

Though I loathe the man who bought these charges I am glad that the charges were laid and the guilty result. Pity our Police couldn't act in the interests of the Nation rather than looking after one of their friends. Now hoping for Banks to serve jail time.

Shane, you could have brought the charges yourself and dispensed with the loathing. At least Graham McCready showed himself sufficiently public-minded to do something about it and risk the censure of his fellow ripped-off citizens, something few are prepared to do in this tall poppy society.
Now hoping Len brown is similarly called to account for his numerous breaches of faith while in public office.

Banks hasn't been convicted yet. He's been found guilty but sentencing is on 1 August. He loses his seat only if he's convicted.

Yes, but he might choose to resign. Funny how Parliament rises for the year the day before. Helps explain the Sept 20 election date.

What a waste of money pursuing this. The public scrutiny/sham is enough of a deterrent for others.

To listen to Banks throughout all of this he continued to believe his own bull. Shaming clearly didn't work here.

Oh my, another apologist for Banks, the board seems infested with them. It is NEVER a waste of money to take down a bent politician, otherwise we end up like a banana republic.

Try telling that to Winston Peters - the hypocrite who was caught lying about his links with Owen Glenn.

Looking at the way he behaves these days like he is cleaner than John Banks is testimony that the public scrutiny/shame is NOT a deterrent.

"Never pray for justice, because you might get some."

And the lesson for all is that you may not be responsible for what is done, but you are always accountable. It is not, and never has been, an excuse to say you didn't know when you should have known (and should have asked).

There seems to have been a lot of context lost here by a number of commentators:

Remember that at the time Banks signed this declaration he had already lost the mayoral election. The declaration occurs *after* the result is known. He was not a minister at that point - that election was still to occur. There was no corruption possible from the person with no power.

His opponent however who *deliberately* set up a mechanism by which to anonymise over 75% of their donations has no case to answer. Context which is also well worth remembering for those crowing 'victory' - the only 'victory' here is that of deliberate and systemic corruption being celebrated over a losers lack of care.

Can he be done for perjury? It came down to his word against theirs.... so obviously being found guilty also implies he has lied under oath. Someone with more knowledge about law might be able to give us an explanation?

I doubt if you could find anyone with less knowledge, going by that comment.

Wilful blindness a defence?

According to this report, the judge found Banks knew the Dotcom donation was not anonymous, hence the verdict.

But on the SyCity donation the report is ambiguous, and maybe more disturbing for New Zealand's reputation.

It says the judge couldn't be sure Banks knew it was false because he refrained from asking his treasurer who may have known it was from SkyCity, either because was too careless to ask or because he knew what the answer would be.

So, did the judge let Banks off on this one, because he chose not to ask? Because he carelessly, recklessly or deliberately didn't ask, because he knew that it wasn't actually anonymous but didn't want to be fixed with actual knowledge?

If so, this is a very, very slippery slope towards sanctioned corruption. Just interpose someone else, and make sure you never ask any questions even when you know full well what's going on.

I don't know if that happened here, but it would be very disturbing if this judgement creates a ready made defence for political corruption to grow in this country, in effect sanctioned by the courts, and the legislature (who after all are responsible for the "knowing" constraint the court was presumably under)

I've since located the judgement. The judge looked closely at wilful blindness, that it would have been sufficient if found to establish guilt on that charge too, but found in the circumstances there was insufficient to establish wilful blindness in relation to the SkyCity donation.

Gerry Brownlee referring to John Banks as Right Honorable - hypocrisy ranks supreme in NZ politics. No need to go to Zimbabwe to see the corrosive effect of power on the minds of politicians.

No. A person does not need "to go to Zimbabwe" they need only to observe "the right honourable" winston peters time at the trough. Or observe mr mccreadys business history.

Winston Peters serves a good purpose in parliament. Because he is independent, and unlikely to run government, he brings to the table issues that would not see the light of day with the main parties.

If you dont recognise that vested interests are at play in government, you need to go back to primary school.

Most politicians are feathering their nestt, and thanks to the power of the internet, the general public are now seeing what has gone on since parliament began.

And theres nothing honourable about politicians, just a convenient lie to convince the masses, until they are exposed for what they really are.

You recall that Winston Peter met three times with Dotcom, then fibbed about it?

This blot on democracy deserves a 7.5m3 skip of excrement - sorry mud - thrown on him

And Brown is still the Mayor of Auckland...what a joke!

@ Rumpole..bailey comes to

I concur with your comment. Scares the heck out of me too and has for a long time. I have travelled the world, not all of it but enough to form a wider viewpoint and what our politicians do, get away with is more like a joke than an attempt to run a country in a democratic manner with fairness than i see in the UK for instance. I've been to Albania, Sali Berisha has more honesty in his thumb than all our politicians put together would ever muster. Period.

Though i'll have to let the Greens away with and awarded the honesty medal for probably being so honest it's hard to believe they are..butter..opps i mean in an electoral party or MP's way.

Of all of them i have seen only that Greens woman and Hone the munters home on TV inside and i i felt from what i saw they were the only real humans of em all the rest of them had places like out of an episode of lifestyles of the rich and famous..where do they make so much money...

We are deeply moved by Banksie's plight but all we have to offer is cabbages and cake and perhaps an apple or two.

Satire is lost on the dishonourable John Banks. His demeanour is the epitome of arrogance. He himself comes across as arrogance personified.

He should pay for his court costs also. I hate this guy. I wish someone would look into his past. Where did all the money come from...

Lucky for New Zealand the ‘old boy’s ‘ tentacles don't reach as high as the good Judges of this nation (yet). However, they seem to be well wrapped around the police force (failing to prosecute Banks), crown lawyers and the electoral commission. Shame it took an outcast retired accountant to let Kiwis know they have only a few years left before we also slide down the rankings to be yet another corrupt Asian/Pacific nation.

I wonder if McCready will get an honours? Yeah right.

So will all those supporting the guilty verdict also now press for action to be taken against Len Brown and David Cunliffe who are guilty of much worse crimes of the same as Banks has been found guilty.
No. Thought not. Its Ok when a Leftie commits crimes.

Not so. I'm all for investigation of all corrupt politicians, regardless of party. NZ politics need a good clean out.

I hope Crown Law now has the time to start looking at all the 2008 electoral offences cynically undertaken by an entire Political Party no less.

Start with the misappropriated $800,000... And continue in both directions.

And hopefully just like that corruption has become an election issue.

Good Job! He is just a self righteous arrogant prick who suffers from small man syndrome. His attitude is that if he does it and it is of benefit to him then as far as he is concerned it is ok. Would make day to see him locked up.