The hearing into the private prosecution of John Banks over his ‘anonymous’ mayoral donations begins today. That the private prosecution has got this far shows the judge believes there is a prima facie case – which puts the Police to shame for failing to take Banks to court. Banks is trying to avoid taking the stand, but I don’t see how he ultimately can.
I think this is going to end badly for Banks. It’s clear as daylight that he knew he had received donations from both SkyCity and Kim Dotcom. He received the SkyCity cheque personally at a meeting called for the specific purpose of handing over the cheque. He had a phone call with Dotcom’s staff to confirm the donation had been received and to thank him. Later, Banks would identify the donation as a reason to not be seen to be associated with Dotcom when he was in jail. Yet, Banks signed a statutory declaration that noted those donations as anonymous.
If Banks goes down in this case, it’s going to get very hard for Key to keep him on as a minister (Banks’ seat won’t be automatically vacated because the offence needs to be punishable by over 2 years in prison for that). Key has repeatedly claimed that the legal test is all he is worried about. But I’m sure he’ll find a way to worm out of that.