John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)
Continued from: John Banks – escaping justice
Following on from the police decision on 26 July not to prosecute John Banks for submitting an allegedly fraudulent Electoral Return, containing incorrect details of donors, this blogger emailed the Prime Minister on this issue,
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Subject: Corrupt practices under the Local Electoral Act (2001)
Date: Saturday, 28 July 2012 6:57 PM
Rt Hon. John Key
28 July 2012
With regards to matters raised by TV3′s John Campbell, Trevor Mallard, and others, surrounding John Banks; his 2010 Electoral Return; and subsequent Police investigation, I invite you to read and consider questions and comments made on my blogpost, “John Banks – escaping justice“.
You will note that I have raised several questions regarding this matter, and have written to Police Asst Commissioner, Malcolm Burgess, for clarification and answers to issues that I regard as important.
I have also contacted Transparency International, a global NGO that rates countries according to levels of corruption within their society. Last year, New Zealand ranked #1 on a Corruption Transparency Index 2011. Following the John Banks Donations Affair, I have invited Transparency Internation to review our top ranking, in terms of least corrupt nation on Earth.
Far from being a “closed matter”, I believe this issue is of vital importance – especially since it appears that many of Kim Dotcom’s allegations against John Banks have been substantiated.
The question that I am asking; will you remove John Banks from his Ministerial roles?
No reply (or even acknowledgement) received as yet, by14 September.
An acknowledgement was, however, received from Winston Peters’ office.
Since the Police decision, the files on this case have been released to the public and the revelations are shocking to put it mildly.
What the police have uncovered is corrupt behaviour, lying, manipulation of the law, and a Crown Minister who has escaped prosecution on the flimsiest of technicalities.
What the Police files reveal:
- Banks received three additional “anonymous” $25,ooo donations for his mayoral campaigns. (See: Police file: How Banks’ team targeted rich-list ) Who were those donations from? Were they one $75,000 donation from one individual/organisation? Were receipts issued for those donations? Did the Police investigate the source of those donations?
- The Police state that although Banks had filed a false election return, “he hadn’t done so deliberately, because he had signed it without reading it“. Really?! Is that the new standard set in New Zealand where people can sign documents and escape liability by simply claiming “I didn’t read it”?! (Can I use that with my bank manager to stop paying my mortgage, because “I didn’t read my mortgage agreement with my bank?”. Won’t she be pleased!)
- Skycity received a receipt from Bank’s Campaign Treasurer for their $15,000 donation. That donation was later listed as ‘anonymous’. (By contrast, Len Brown – who also received a $15,000 donation from Skycity – openly and correctly recorded the source of that donation on his Electoral return.) How could Banks’ Treasurer then knowingly record that Skycity donation as “anonymous”?!
- Banks twice phoned Dotcom to thank him for the donation – the same donation he could not remember when first challenged by the media.
- John Banks incited Kim Dotcom to break the Electoral law on reporting donations by advising him to hide the $50,000 donation: “I want to help you Kim and I can help you more effectively if no-one knows about this donation.” (See: John Banks told lawyer of support by Dotcom )
- Banks is now trying to hide his statement to the Police, despite his oft-repeatred mantra, “Nothing to fear, nothing to hide”. Banks is most certainly doing his utmost to hide his statement he made to the police. See: “Banks camp’s stories differ“. What is Banks trying to hide from the Public? What more is there that would damn John Banks in the eyes of the public? What indeed.
Further playing the role of the scoundrel and rogue, Banks then has the temerity to blame others for his mendacity. Through a spokeswoman (because Banks hasn’t the intestinal fortitude to front directly to the media), he released this statement,
“A spokeswoman for the minister said he had always stated he signed the electoral return in good faith believing it to be true and correct. “He has always believed he acted within the law.”
She said the law – passed by Labour 11 years ago and tightened yesterday – was “unclear, unfair and unworkable”.
“Mr Banks believes that no candidate for public office should have to go through what he has been through.”
Banks says “He has always believed he acted within the law” ?!?!
By advising a political donor to hide his donation by splitting it in two?
Banks then attempts to blame the Labour Party by suggesting that the law was “unclear, unfair and unworkable” ?!?!
The law is actually quite clear and specific:
“ 109 Return of electoral expenses
(1) Within 55 days after the day on which the successful candidates at any election are declared to be elected, every candidate at the election must transmit to the electoral officer a return setting out—
(a) the candidate’s electoral expenses; and
(b) the name and address of each person who made an electoral donation to the candidate and the amount of each electoral donation; and
(c) if an electoral donation of money or of the equivalent of money is made to the candidate anonymously and the amount of that donation exceeds $1,000,—
(i) the amount of that donation; and
(ii) the fact that it has been received anonymously.
(2) Every return under subsection (1) must be in the form prescribed in Schedule 2 or to similar effect.
(3) If the candidate is outside New Zealand on the day on which the successful candidates are declared to be elected, the return must be transmitted by the candidate to the electoral officer within 21 days after the date of the candidate’s return to New Zealand.
(4) It is the duty of every electoral officer to ensure that this section is complied with. “
Source: Local Electoral Act 2001
The law is actually quite clear and specific: donations and donors are to be truthfully recorded: “the name and address of each person who made an electoral donation to the candidate and the amount of each electoral donation; and…“
It was not the law at fault – it was the person who conspired to defeat that law who is at fault here. If a person like John Banks is not preprared to follow the law – both in letter and spirit – then no amount of “tightening” legislation will work. People like Banks will simply find new ways to circumvent the intent of legislation.
It is therefore a bit rich for Banks to say,
“As Charles Dickens said in 1838 the law is an ass – and it’s important that the Government cleans it up. No candidate for public office should go through what I had to go through.”
The law is not an “ass”. The real ass is a certain MP for Epsom who treats the law like a minor irrirant, to be brushed aside at will.
Banks would not have gone “through what [he] had to go through” had he simply followed the law. It wasn’t “rocket science”.
Banks is also blaming Police for not releasing the record of his three-hour interview with the Police, saying that it was their decision. This is another lie from the Member for Epsom.
As with all lies, they eventually collapse under their complexity, as happened when Banks’ press secretary let slip that he had indeed “gone over” his Electoral Return with his Campaign Treasurer, before signing it,
” Mr Banks is likely to face further questions after his press secretary removed his line of defence against the accusations.
Police said they could not prove that he knew the content of the form was false because it was filled out by the campaign treasurer, who assured Mr Banks it was “true and correct”. Mr Banks then signed it.
Ms Mackey yesterday challenged descriptions of this as saying Mr Banks signed the form without reading it. In an email, she said: “But John Banks did read the document.”
Police had already established Mr Banks knew who some anonymous donors were. Ms Mackey’s statement meant he would have known the donation form did not include donors of whom he was personally aware.
She then back-pedalled, saying the treasurer had “gone over” the form with Mr Banks. “
This is not the first time that the Banks/ACT camp has slipped up and issued a conflicting statement,
On the following day, another ACT member dropped an even bigger ‘clanger‘.
On 2 May, ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson. (Note: This blogger personally heard this interview.)
Simmons stated that the suggestion, by John Banks, to split the $50,000 donation was,
“…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.
… He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers.”
With that extraordinary slip-of-the-tongue, Simmons had publicly admitted what Kim Dotcom had been alleging, and what John Banks had been consistently andf strenuously denying.
Simons retracted within the hour, according to the “NZ Herald“.
So it appears that Simmons was right the first time; John Banks had indeed suggested to Dotcom to split the $50,000 donation. When Simmons retracted that statement less than an hour later, that is when he lied when he said,
” I can’t say that because I don’t know that and John hasn’t told me that. I haven’t asked John that. What John has told me is he spoke to a lot of people asking for donations. He has told me [he] spoke to Dotcom but I haven’t gone into the details of it. All I’m interested in [is] was that donation report above board. He’s been very clear he has nothing to fear and nothing to hide.”
How many people have been drawn into Banks’ web of lies? How many more will lie for him?
It should be abundantly clear to any but the most partisan National/ACT supporter that John Banks has the moral compass of a Nigerian scammer. It is therefore unacceptable that, when challenged, Dear Leader John Key reaffirms his support for Banks,
”Nothing has changed when it comes to (our earlier) position. I haven’t read the full (police) report, I’ve seen what’s in the media … Look, this is a politically motivated attack from Labour and really where they should have put their political energy is changing the law. It is very, very broad, unworkable law and that’s why the Government is changing it now.”
John Key was then asked if he still maintained confidence in Banks, and replied,
1. The law currently states that “ if an electoral donation of money or of the equivalent of money is made to the candidate anonymously and the amount of that donation exceeds $1,000… “
National is planning to change the Act by raising the limit to $1,500. How that would have prevented Banks from rorting the Electoral Act is unclear to this blogger.
2. When NZ First Leader, Winston Peters was embroiled in the Owen Glenn donations scandal, John Key was very adamant what he expected from then-Prime Minister, Helen Clark,
“ Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government
Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 4:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
John Key MP
National Party Leader
27 August 2008
Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government
National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.
“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.
“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.
“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.
“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.
“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.
“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.
“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”. “
Your call, Mr Key.
A link to this blogpost has been emailed to media, political parties, as well as John Key and John Banks. Why not? Nothing to fear, nothing to hide…
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