High Court finds ACT MP John Banks guilty of knowingly filing false electoral return over split Dotcom donations; But will stay as MP until Parliament rises for election

High Court finds ACT MP John Banks guilty of knowingly filing false electoral return over split Dotcom donations; But will stay as MP until Parliament rises for election

High Court finds Banks guilty of knowingly filing false electoral return over Dotcom donations, but he will stay as MP supporting Govt until Parliament rises for election

The High Court has found ACT MP John Banks guilty of knowingly filing a false electoral return over donations from Kim Dotcom, but Banks is set to stay in Parliament until it rises at the end of July ahead of the September 20 election, which means the Government can continue to govern with a small majority until then.

Although Banks has been found guilty, he has yet to have a conviction entered against him until after August 1 and can therefore remain in parliament, said Gerry Brownlee, the National Government's Leader in the House.

Brownlee, told a news conference in Christchurch there was no need for an early election and that the Government still had enough support to govern.

"There's no conviction entered and there won't be a conviction entered until August 1, and Parliament is scheduled to lift for the General Election on July 31," Brownlee said.

"As I understand it, he is not convicted, therefore can remain in Parliament and exercise his vote," he said.

Brownlee denied the potential for a Banks conviction was the reason for the Prime Minister's choice of a September 20 election date. He referred to the Prime Minister's consideration of G20 meetings in November, school holidays and the timing of rugby tests.

Banks is expected to apply for a discharge without conviction at his sentencing on August 1. Justice Edwin Wylie ordered a pre-sentencing report and a report on the suitability of home detention.

New Zealand's Parliamentary rules state that a Parliamentarian can be removed if convicted of an offence punishable by more than two years in prison.

Reaction

Labour Leader David Cunliffe said the Government had been propped up by a "corrupt politician."

“John Key turned a blind eye to John Banks, refusing to read the Police report which ultimately led to this prosecution. The Prime Minister has wilfully ignored the case against the MP for Epsom because he was prepared to have his Government propped up by someone who has acted illegally," Cunliffe said.

The Green Party called for Banks to leave Parliament.

“John Key’s coalition is reliant on a criminal,” Green spokesman Gareth Hughes said. “It is completely unacceptable for John Key to continue to rely on John Bank’s vote in the period running up to his sentencing. If John Banks won’t resign, John Key must rule out working with him," Hughes said.

“John Key gifted John Banks the seat of Epsom, then looked the other way when the evidence started piling up against him. John Banks may be guilty of a criminal offence, but John Key is guilty of wilfully remaining ignorant as the evidence stacked up against him," he said.

(Updated with more detail, reaction)

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

25 Comments

What has this got to do with Finance? Why is everyday political news such as polls now featured on this site?

... it's because none of us can get our heads around Bernard's new toy , the " Hive " website ...
 
It's easier , and we have more fun interacting here at interest.co.nz ...
 
... and truth be told , the strands of finance and politics weave an array of interlocked connections enough to make a Turkish rug look like a simple pom-pom ....

Really?  Parliament decides regulation which affects markets, investment, property - pretty much everything financial.  This is a corruption issue involving a member of the current government in an election year.
 
Of course it's relevant.

But everyone already knows that the current government is corrupt, it's not exactly news.
 
The other parties arn't exactly much better however.

Because Rupert says so..

Before you cast that stone in your hand.  Remember Taito Phillip Field?  The undeclared NY bank account?  Truth is none of them are pure as snow..

I wonder aloud if there are any other sitting MP's who hold some form of criminal conviction?

David Cunliffe , before you get upon your high moral ground , just remember that the only difference between you and John Banks was that he had his donations out in the open , whereas you chose to hide yours in a trust account ...
 
... remember the hidden trust account , David ?
 
Please don't be a hypocrite !

Oh please.  EVERYONE has a trust.  Cunliffe has a trust, John Key has a "blind" trust.  My fat cat has a trust.  It's just common sense to offset tax and protect assets.  And how much money are the Nats raking in with cabinet club.

No he's refering to the trust account that was used to funnel campaign donations to Cunliffes leadership bid.  Not everyone has one of those.
 
Most politicians use them these days to flout that laws that require disclosure of donations.  The donations are disclosed, but there is just one large donation from a trust.  The people and corporates donating to the trust are kept hidden.  Not sure that party leadership campaigns are subject to any electoral financing laws though.

Total storm in a teacup! Duncan Garner, David Farrar, and others practically doused poor old Cunliffe in a bucket of verbal vitriol for what’s really a minor error, kind of like left wing own-goal.  That trust thing is nothing national hasnt done in the past anyway.  Totally asymmetric criticism, cabinet club and Oravida should have drawn much more negative media attention IMHO.   Oh well it’s an election year.

The Nats have gone from being cynical to CYNICAL. 
 

That's a remarkable result, and if accurate would mean certain victory for National. I am making the caveat that about 1 poll in 20 taken are going to be unusual, and that is a really dramatic movement for one poll - National governing alone, No NZ First, etc. I am willing to predict that the next Roy Morgan poll will show National at a lower level. people can justifiably call me out on that if I get it wrong, but it really looks like an unusual sample result to me.

Dh - the Roy Morgan poll is by far the less reliable of all the polls, and whilst I'd love to believe it, I'm sure you're right, next one will be lower even if National had a brilliant few months.

That is actually an urban myth- the Roy Morgan is as accurate as any of them, but because they happen so often you can see the variation, the ones that only happen occasionally it is harder to see the odd polls, but they happen at the same rate (it is just with much fewer of them you can't notice it). Here is a discussion from Auckland Unveristy Stat's people a few weeks ago.
http://www.statschat.org.nz/2014/05/23/is-roy-morgan-weird/
Basically, the people who say that don't have a very good grasp on how you compare things over time if they happen at different rates.

dh,
You are always a good commenter on these. I have a view that generally New Zealanders don't want a government with a very large majority, so one poll showing an extreme result helps drive the next poll. It is though starting to look like National will be very strong, and just maybe Winston will be tempted to go with them if they are 48-49%.

The one thing that unites Labour, NZ first, Mana, Green, and this weird new internet party is a deep seated desire to remove John Key from power.  At least so it seems to me watching these leaders talk on the Nation etc.  If National manages to gerrymander the election again by giving Colin Craig the East coast bays, and Jamie Whyte Epson then they could have it in the bag.   Interesting next few months.

Stephen, you may be right, and I have some sympathy for the view that NZers deliberately want a limiting influence on their governments so fall back from 50%, but I will also acknowledge that parties have a general level of support, and the further you get from it the more likely it is to be a freak polling result. This has much the same effect in looking at the polls. and for this one, I really don't think it likely that the Green's had such a bad two weeks they lost a third of their party support.

What is the relevance of this in a post about breaking news?  Do you think anyone polled was aware that a partner of the national government was found guilty of corruption and allowed to stay on?  I'm starting to imagine you wearing a blue dance unifiorm doing high kicks with poms poms   Give us a N give us a A give us a T ....  what does it spell?  NATIONAL !!!!!!

Well, it is relevant in a thread about politics, but as it happens no one in the poll would have known the outcome- this is the post budget poll. In the next poll we can see what has happened to ACT's meteoric rise to 1% in this poll, but whatever those poll movements are I have a hunch ACT's poll movements will be in the margin of error of a party with no support.

I'm more interested in our justice system. I believe he could be jailed for "up to two years."
Hmmm, my bet, is Home detention for 6 months. He should be ordered to pay back the sum in full and donate to a worthy cause.
I wonder if one of us plebs were to rip the system whether we would be given similar treatment?
I'm getting tired of NZ society where those at the top are immune from any form of consequence. Then to top it off we have our own PM who is enjoying a paid holiday in the tropics to say "everytime I've dealt with him i've found him to be an honest man." 
What a pathetic response, he should have at least said "no comment." I would respect that.
Meanwhile back on Planet Earth, hundreds of West coast miners are soon to await their fate..I wonder if Bill English will throw another 30 million to fix this problem?
Oh, hang on, it's govt owned - of course not.
 
 

Forget Banksie - he has been exposed as the wide boy we probably always knew he and the current government were. The guy who is is being forgotten in all this is retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready who brought the initial prosecution after our "police" strangely rolled over (Interference anyone??). McReady is NZer of the Year in my opinion but suspect John Key won't be too interested.
It would be nice to see some journalism on why the police decided there was no case to answer for as this appears to be another case of one rule for the toffs and another for the peasants.

Yes, why the police decided there was no case to answer is an interesting one as the full judgement gives some word-for-word out takes of Banks' police interview. He is clearly being oddly evasive to the point of sounding just plain dumb/silly/incoherent. To me, it was a seemingly 'totally lost the plot' conversation.  I suspect the police interviewing him didn't have the requisite experience in prosecutions of electoral law - a bit hard to tell, as of course the judgement just quotes short excerpts. It would be really interesting if the full transcript of the police interview were to be publicly released - quite an interesting case study into the mindset of a criminal politician.
 
I found this summary of Banks' political career really insightful;
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11268295
 
If not a bit embarrassing for us - the NZ and Auckland electorate at large. How does such a person get voted in to receive a taxpayer funded job for 34 years????

For those that didn't hear it first time round;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CvRSZxqk_I
 

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are under pressure so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.