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Banks 'disappointed, surprised' at guilty verdict

Published: 5:32AM Thursday June 05, 2014 Source: ONE News

Act MP John Banks says he is disappointed and surprised at the guilty verdict handed down against him today.

Outside court, Banks told waiting media the "rain is still falling" for him.

"We were hoping it would become a very sunny day.

"We are disappointed with the verdict, we are surprised with the result."

Banks is continuing to maintain his innocence, saying he will explore his legal options which could include an appeal or an application for a discharge without conviction.

"From day one I have told you I would never knowingly file a false anything let alone a false return."

ONE News political editor Corin Dann says Banks will remain an MP for now despite today’s verdict.

Banks stood in the dock in the High Court in Auckland this afternoon as Justice Edwin Wylie found him guilty of knowingly filing a false electoral return after his failed Auckland mayoral campaign in 2010.

In summing up his decision, Justice Wylie told the court he accepted Banks knew he was receiving a donation from SkyCity. He also said he accepted Banks asked Kim Dotcom to split a $50,000 cheque into two $25,000 payments.

"I accepted there was a discussion regarding donations to Banks' mayoral campaign at a lunch attended by Mr and Mrs Banks which was held at Mr Dotcom's mansion and that Mr Dotcom offered to donate $50,000 to the campaign and Mr Banks asked that rather than one cheque for $50,000, there should be two cheques for 25,000."

Justice Wylie also said Mr Dotcom, his wife Mona and Dotcom's former head of security Wayne Tempero were "reliable witnesses".

Outside of court, Graham McCready, the man who brought a private prosecution against Banks, celebrated the verdict with a song he had prepared.

"You were so arrogant... and now your price you will bear," said Mr McCready.

Mr McCready proceeded with the case against Banks after police decided not to prosecute him in 2012.

Mr Dotcom hit out at police following the verdict, tweeting minutes afterwards: "Shame on the New Zealand Police for not charging John Banks or the GCSB and its spies for their criminal conduct. #JohnBanksGuilty".

Banks went on trial following a private prosecution brought by retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready. Police had previously investigated but decided in 2012 not to prosecute.

Banks faces a jail sentence of up to two years or a $10,000 fine. He will return to court for sentencing on August 1.

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