Banks' Dotcom call: 'I'd do it again'

Kim Dotcom, John Banks and Maurice Williamson. Photos / Brett Phibbs, Jason Dorday, Getty Images
Kim Dotcom, John Banks and Maurice Williamson. Photos / Brett Phibbs, Jason Dorday, Getty Images

Act leader John Banks has admitted he may have tried to lobby a government minister on behalf on Megaupload millionaire Kim Dotcom more than once, and says he would do it again.

Mr Banks has found himself at the centre of a controversy over donations to his 2010 mayoral campaign after Dotcom claimed he he donated $50,000.

The money was deposited in two payments of $25,000, and listed on the mayoral return as anonymous.

Dotcom has claimed that Mr Banks knew the money was from him, but the MP has denied that.

The pair have reportedly met four times, including once when Mr Banks was flown to Dotcom's Coatesville mansion by helicopter.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson admitted yesterday Mr Banks had tried to lobby him on behalf of Dotcom.

Mr Williamson said Mr Banks had called him regarding an Overseas Investment Office application on a Coatesville property that Dotcom wanted to purchase.

The application was subsequently declined.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Mr Banks admitted he might have called Mr Williamson on Dotcom's behalf more than once, saying "It could have been two''. However, he defended his actions.

"[Dotcom] was a New Zealand resident, he asked me for some advice, I said I'd help him, I rang Maurice Williamson about it. I wasn't the mayor of Auckland, I wasn't a Member of Parliament, I was a private citizen. I made the phone call and I'd do it again.''

Mr Banks said he regretted following legal advice last week to not to speak to the media about anything that could jeopardise an inquiry into the matter.

"If I had have quite specifically and quite easily answered all of those questions upfront, contrary to the legal advice, then I wouldn't find myself in this situation where people think I'm obfuscating,'' he said.

"I shouldn't have taken that legal advice, I should have answered questions much more straightly.''

He reiterated that when he signed the mayoral return he did not know that the two $25,000 payments were from Dotcom, saying he had spoken to hundreds of people about making donations, and received money from only about a fifth of those.

Mr Banks said he hoped the inquiry would begin today and have concluded by the end of the week.

- NZ Herald

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