Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:
ACT leader John Banks says he gave away a luxury gift basket from German millionaire Kim Dotcom, who is at the centre of a series of allegations surrounding donations to the former Auckland mayor.
Mr Banks confirmed yesterday that he had failed to declare the gift in the register of MPs’ pecuniary interests. MPs are supposed to declare all gifts worth more than $500.
The register is due to be published by the end of the month and MPs were supposed to complete their declarations by February. They are allowed to make adjustments, however.
Mr Dotcom has reportedly claimed that in December he left the hamper worth about $1000 for Mr Banks at the Hong Kong Grand Hyatt.
Mr Banks responded to the gesture with a thank-you note signed “warmest best”.
In a statement last night, Mr Banks confirmed he received the gift basket but said he did not accept it and gave it to hotel staff.
“I have learned through the media today that the gift was supposedly worth more than $500, an amount which requires disclosure under the Register of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests.
“Subsequently my office sought clarification from the registrar on the appropriate course of action. As we are unable to confirm the actual value, their advice was to make an addition to my return … which I have now done.”
An MP could complain to the Privileges Committee, if thy think the return was deliberately inaccurate. However that would only be accepted if there was some evidence that Banks knew the value of the gift basket was over $500. I have to say that I would not generally assume a hotel gift basket was worth over $500, so even if a complaint is lodged with the Speaker (which Labour could well do as a publicity stunt), I’d be surprised if it is referred to the Privileges Committee.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key confirmed yesterday that he had met Mr Dotcom’s bodyguard, Wayne Tempero.
The meeting was about a self defence programme for young women and happened before Mr Tempero went to work for Mr Dotcom.
Good God. How is this relevent.
It was claimed yesterday that Mr Banks had proposed a meeting between Mr Tempero and Mr Key over Mr Dotcom’s “future efforts for New Zealand”.
Mr Key has repeatedly said he had never heard of Mr Dotcom till his arrest on internet piracy charges.
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said he has met Mr Tempero once at his electorate office “many years ago”.
“Mr Tempero had returned to New Zealand and was looking for support for self-defence programme he was looking to run for young women,” she said.
I suspect this was before Key was even PM. The reality is that once you are PM, you spend less time in electorate clinics.Tags: John Banks, Kim Dotcom, MPs Register of Pecuniary Interests