New Zealand minister resigns in Kim Dotcom donation row

A New Zealand government minister resigned Wednesday after being ordered to stand trial over electoral fraud allegations involving campaign donations from Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.

Prime Minister John Key said Small Business Minister John Banks had agreed to step down from his portfolio until the case is resolved. Banks will retain his seat in parliament, preserving Key's slim majority in the chamber.

"Mr Banks maintains his innocence but realises this is a distraction for the government and has offered to resign as a minister," Key said in a statement.

The case centres on donations Banks received from Dotcom and the Sky City Casino in 2010 to help bankroll a failed bid to become Auckland mayor.

Dotcom told a court this week that he donated NZ$50,000 ($42,000) to Banks, but the politician asked him to make two NZ$25,000 installments so the source of the funds could remain anonymous under campaign funding laws.

Dotcom was close to Banks until his arrest for alleged online piracy in January 2012, when the German Internet tycoon accused the politician of abandoning him as US authorities prosecuted his Megaupload empire.

Police examined the donations case last year, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to bring a case against Banks.

However, a Wellington accountant, Graham McCready, launched a private prosecution and obtained a ruling in the Auckland District Court on Wednesday ordering Banks to stand trial on charges of electoral fraud.

"This evidence clearly shows that Mr Banks was aware of the source of both donations and must therefore have known that they could not properly have been characterised as coming from anonymous sources," judge Phil Gittos ruled.

If convicted, Banks would face a maximum jail term of two years and automatically lose his seat in parliament.

Banks said he planned to plead not guilty, telling reporters: "I have nothing to fear and I have nothing to hide."

Dotcom remains free on bail in New Zealand pending an extradition hearing expected to take place in April next year.

He announced plans last month to form a political party to contest the 2014 election in New Zealand, accusing Key of bowing to Hollywood pressure by allowing the United States to pursue the case against him.

The US Justice Department and FBI allege Megaupload and related sites netted more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than $500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post
    Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post

    After nearly a year, President Aquino finally made good his promise to a long-time ally – former Cavite governor and congressman Erineo Maliksi – to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), replacing Margarita Juico who resigned in May 2014. Maliksi must be officially elected by the PCSO board members as their chairman. Prior to his appointment to the PCSO, Maliksi faced graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.5 million worth …

  • US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense
    US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense

    A massive deployment of aircraft, personnel and warships characterizes this year’s Balikatan between the two allies, which war games were launched 30 years ago. Commander Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy public affairs chief, said the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) will link  up with the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. …

  • P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China
    P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China

    With China’s actions threatening to “considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” President Aquino will ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a united stand against Beijing’s massive reclamation activities and other provocative acts in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Aquino will raise the appeal to his ASEAN counterparts when they meet on April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia. Beijing reacted immediately to the plan, saying the …

  • OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism
    OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday backed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), warning that failure to see the peace process through with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could open the door to extremism. OIC secretary-general Iyad Bin Amin Madani, who is in the country to rally support for the peace process and the BBL, told reporters at the Senate yesterday that the Philippines should not waste the opportunity to attain lasting peace in Mindanao, especially …

  • Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed
    Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed

    The head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is opposing the plan of the Senate to investigate alleged “justice for sale” in the judiciary. In an interview yesterday, IBP national president Vicente Joyas contested the pronouncement of Senate President Franklin Drilon that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee can probe the reported corruption in the judiciary, as it remains part of the scope of the Senate’s investigative power. “The plan of the Senate to push through with the …

  • PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view
    PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view

    The camp of Floyd Mayweather is reportedly charging the Philippine National Police P200,000 for a pay-per-view deal of his fight with Manny Pacquiao, a PNP official said yesterday. Director Danilo Constantino, the PNP’s Chief Directorial Staff, said the cost of the pay-per-view for the fight makes it difficult for the PNP to sponsor the free viewing for its personnel and their dependents at Camp Crame’s multi-purpose center. “We are currently negotiating for the pay-per-view and we ever …

  • No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP
    No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP

    There has been no disruption in the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima was suspended in December 2014, an official said yesterday. PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina is the one signing the PTCFOR cards, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said. Cerbo, however, could not say when Espina started signing the cards and how many PTCFORs have …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options