Article – BusinessDesk
Oct. 16 (BusinessDesk) The Act Partys leader and sole Member of Parliament, John Banks, has resigned as a Minister after an Auckland District Court judge sent Banks for trial over the handling of political donations.
John Banks resigns as he faces electoral fraud trial
Oct. 16 (BusinessDesk) – The Act Party’s leader and sole Member of Parliament, John Banks, has resigned as a Minister after an Auckland District Court judge sent Banks for trial over the handling of political donations.
“I have spoken to Mr Banks this afternoon following the Auckland District Court’s decision that he should stand trial for alleged fraud over his electoral returns following a private prosecution,” Key said in a statement.
Banks had told Key’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, late last week that he would resign if the judge ruled against him, although he maintains he is innocent of the allegations brought in a private prosecution after police declined to press charges after an investigation.
Banks’s resignation means the government has had to accept ministerial resignations from two of its support partners this year. The leader of United Future and its only MP, Peter Dunne, resigned in a storm of controversy over the leaked Kitteridge report on unlawful spying by the Government Communications Security Bureau on German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.
Dotcom is also central to Banks’s demise as a Minister, as the alleged fraud relates to his knowledge of a $50,000 political donation from Dotcom during his 2010 election campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.
In a further twist, Banks is the second mayor, past or present, to face public embarrassment, the newly re-elected incumbent Len Brown having been forced to admit an extra-marital affair yesterday.
Banks has been remanded at large for the next hearing on Dec. 17.