Opposition parties are calling on Prime Minister John Key to dump John Banks as a minister after police found he knew about anonymous donations to his mayoral campaign.
Police said today there was insufficient evidence to charge Banks, despite finding he knew about $50,000 donation from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and a $15,000 donation from SkyCity ahead of his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign. The donations were listed as anonymous.
Dotcom claimed he discussed the donation with Banks at his Auckland mansion, and later received a phone call thanking him for the money despite Banks listing it on his 2010 mayoral return as two anonymous donations of $25,000 each.
Police said today they were "unable to establish that Mr Banks had the necessary knowledge that the donation had been recorded as anonymous in the return before he signed and submitted it".
Labour leader David Shearer said the police investigation showed Banks, who is now the leader of the Act Party, is not fit to serve as a minister.
"Every New Zealander knows what's gone on here even though the police can't charge him," Shearer said.
"John Banks has essentially escaped prosecution because he claims to have forgotten receiving any money. And John Key seems to think that's okay. He is the only person still standing by John Banks."
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei also called on Key to take action against Banks.
"At present John Key's Government is supported by a Minister that seems incapable of remembering the most basic facts." she said.
"This Government also has a Minister that seems willing to sign documents that are patently false."
Key dismissed the calls, saying the original complaint to police was "politically motivated".
"The issue is whether the minister complied with the law. The police have effectively confirmed today that he has," Key said.
ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin said because the support of the lone Act MP ensures Key a one seat majorty, there is little chance Key would stand Banks down now there is no chance of a prosecution.
Detective superintendent Peter Read said in a letter to Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who made the complaint, that police were able to establish that on June 9 Banks personally solicited a donation from Dotcom.
"This request resulted in Mr Kim Dotcom paying two $25,000 donations to the bank account of Team Banksie 2010 on 14 July 2010.
"Both donations were subsequently recorded in the Electoral Return of the Treasurer for Team Banksie as anonymous."
Read also said that Banks had met with the chief executive officer of SkyCity Entertainment Group and had received an envelope containing a $15,000 cheque.
However, Read said that police were "unable to establish that Mr Banks had the necessary knowledge that the donation had been recorded as anonymous in the return before he signed and submitted it".
He said the return had been complied by a campaign volunteer, and that Banks had sought and received confirmation that it was an accurate return before he submitted it.
"Police are therefore of the view that there is insufficient evidence to consider a prosecution in respect of section 134 (1)," Read said.