Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

John Banks dined at mansion, gave advice on Dotcom residency

John Banks. Photo / Richard Robinson
John Banks. Photo / Richard Robinson

Former Auckland Mayor and Epsom MP John Banks has dined at Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville and says Dotcom was "very supportive" when Mr Banks was mayor - but he says he hardly knows the millionaire.

Mr Banks met Dotcom after Dotcom offered to fund a New Year's fireworks display on the Waitemata Harbour in 2010, estimated to cost about $500,000.

"I met him because he was wanting to be generous to the city, and did."

However, their acquaintance was very limited, although Mr Banks had given him advice on his residency application and to his staff about the Overseas Investment Commission process when Dotcom was trying to buy his mansion.

He knew little about Dotcom, saying the sum total of his conversations with him would have been 20 minutes.

Their meetings included one at property developer David Henderson's apartment where Mr Banks went to watch the fireworks display.

He said Dotcom arrived as Mr Banks was leaving so they had only a brief conversation.

He was later invited out to dinner at the dotcom mansion, although he could not remember the date or the occasion.

"I enjoyed the occasion. Yes I went and I stayed for a short while, as I do.

"I don't know what we had for dinner, but it was a very pleasant occasion because I'm a car enthusiast and he had a nice collection of cars. I enjoyed looking at those in the garages. I got to speak to him for about five minutes."

Dotcom's application to buy the Coatesville property was refused by ministers.

Mr Banks could not recall whether he had ever provided a written reference for Dotcom, but said he did not normally give character references to people he did not know well.

"To the best of my knowledge I gave him some advice about applying for residency.

"He has been very generous to many charities and good causes, as I understand it, and he was very generous to Auckland City when he volunteered to fund the fireworks display, and did."

Mr Banks said he did not know if Dotcom donated money to his mayoral campaign in 2010, but possibly it was anonymous.

According to media reports, Kim Dotcom gave about $500,000 to put on a fireworks display over Auckland in 2010 for New Year's Eve; donated a significant sum to the Christchurch Earthquake appeal and donated $90,000 to the Starship Foundation.

- NZ Herald

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