John Banks Conviction Signals a New Purge in Kiwi Politics

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 1, 2014 10:04 PM EST

The conviction of John Banks, MP and former Act Party leader for community detention, will bear many implications for the polity of New Zealand.

Banks was convicted by the High Court for filing a false electoral return. Justice Edwin Wylie of the High Court sentenced the 68-year-old leader for two months community detention and 100 community work hours, reported New Zealand Herald.

REUTERS
Kim Dotcom speaks during an interview with Reuters in Auckland January 19, 2013.

Donation Trouble

Banks was held guilty in June for an offence relating to two $25,000 donations from Web tycoon Kim Dotcom for his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign.

Justice Wylie said the contribution by Dotcom was recorded as anonymous in his returns even when Banks knew who it was from. Banks engineered the situation by getting it prepared by someone who was not in the know of things and Banks did not recheck the electoral return to insulate him from the process. The court observed that Banks might have had actual knowledge of the falsity or avoided checking it because he knew what the answer would be.

Appeal soon

John Banks claimed he was innocent and said he would appeal against the conviction by offering water-tight evidence. But Banks' sentence of community detention will be on hold because of the impending appeal.

It was Wellington accountant Graham McCready who brought the charges against Banks to court. He commented that the universe is unfolding as it should. Now he will pursue Banks for $45,000 in legal costs.

McCready has plans to move a private prosecution against police for not prosecuting Banks earlier. In this respect, Mc Cready named Prime Minister John Key as an accessory. He remarked that the verdict has a reason for celebration for the system as well as the New Zealand public.

Labour Assures Transparency

Labour leader David Cunliffe described the sentence as just and asked Banks to accept and move on. He said Banks' conviction underlines a sorry chapter in political history and a reminder of the dodgy deal that kept him in Parliament for three years.

Cunliffe charged the National Party of hanging on to power with the support of irrelevant parties such as ACT and United Future. He assured that Labour Party will put an end to coat-tailing and make the electoral system fair and transparent.

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(Photo: REUTERS / NIGEL MARPLE)
Kim Dotcom speaks during an interview with Reuters in Auckland January 19, 2013.
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