Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Johndotbanks - the law is over, let the politics commence

33 Responses

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Do similar laws apply to tax returns?

    If I get an assistant to raise, file and bank my invoices, never look at a bank statement, and then have another assistant produce a tax return that says I made $25k last year, is that ok?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4444 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Do similar laws apply to tax returns?

    Different rules apply to tax returns.

    :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    The tax return just asks if 'the information is true and correct'.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 219 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    The tax return just asks if 'the information is true and correct'.

    But the offence provision in the statute makes you responsible for it, whether you've read it or not.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    The reason that police decided that they could not properly charge Mr Banks is that, in effect, they did not believe they could prove he had read the return before he signed it,...

    Maybe they should be forced by law to read the thing they are signing, then they could not say they hadn't read it, to weasel out of responsibility. As for political cost, both you and I know, there will be none.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    But the offence provision in the statute makes you responsible for it, whether you've read it or not.

    In relevant judgements on tax matters - The judge will always refer the person to their declaration - which the IRD kindly print on all returns - "I declare that the information given in this return is true and correct"

    This form of declaration is given in judgements as the basis for refusing to remit substantial penalties or grant an errant taxpayer any consideration that results from an honest error.

    What I always do is qualify my tax returns declaration to "I declare that the information given in this return is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and ability".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1188 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Green,

    What does this mean for Key's "complied with the law" test? Presumably "avoided scrutiny until the time limit expired" passes somewhat under that bar?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2011 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Peter Green,

    What does this mean for Key’s “complied with the law” test? Presumably “avoided scrutiny until the time limit expired” passes somewhat under that bar?

    This mean police probably think John Banks did not comply with the law. They haven't expressly said that, saying that John Banks did not knowingly file a false donation return, and it was too late for us to bother investigating whether he had broken the law by failing to take due care.

    That said, even if Police think Banks did break the law, but escapes prosecution because of a limitation clause, that's only their view. They're no judges, and they're not infallible. Banks has a legal right to be presumed innocent and any offending he engaged in was so minor that it is considered of a type we don't bother about after six months.

    Maybe police got it wrong. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.

    Even if John Banks knew who was donating money to him, the same can likely also be said of Len Brown. The only difference with Len Brown is that his campaign deliberately used a structure under which campaign donors' identities can be made expressly known to the candidate without being declared, and Bank's campaign did anything they might have done in a much more haphazard amateurish way.

    I said that the the law was over, and it was time for politics. That's not quite true. There's also a place for the law to be fixed so this can't happen at all, whether it happened this time or not. The law should not allow secret donations, or anonymous donations, or donations made through trusts.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    any offending he engaged in was so minor that it is considered of a type we don't bother about after six months

    Which tells us what our Parliament believes is important.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Even if John Banks knew who was donating money to him, the same can likely also be said of Len Brown.

    Except Len Brown declared his SkyCity donation rather than elaborately contriving to pretend it was anonymous. Ethics, maybe?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The law should not allow secret donations, or anonymous donations, or donations made through trusts.

    Amen to that.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    As for political cost, both you and I know, there will be none.

    I wouldn't be so sure. I was having dinner with an very twin set and pearls Remuera accountant on Wednesday night and she was disgusted with Banks. Epsom/Remuera is full of people who are like to think they are quite "proper". Bank's reputation has taken a helluva a battering over this. I am pretty sure that as long as National select a candidate for Epsom in 2014 then he or she will defeat Banks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Peter Green,

    What does this mean for Key’s “complied with the law” test? Presumably “avoided scrutiny until the time limit expired” passes somewhat under that bar?

    Was difficult to fathom in the House yesterday when Trevor did his best to angle a question (supplementary) in about Banks, Key was missing and Foss was trying to avoid answering. But Trevor and Grant Robertson pushed the information out there and the National Party objected to the letter being tabled.

    The Herald has this, presumably from Wednesday in the House

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6085 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Yes I know those people, and they are very vocal in their abrogation of the man, however they remain glued to agenda. Dieu et mon droit!

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    "I am pretty sure that as long as National select a candidate for Epsom in 2014 then he or she will defeat Banks."

    According to Stuff, "sources close to the Epsom MP have indicated he will not stand at the next election."

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    So he'll be lying at the next election? Well, won't that be a change :-P

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 889 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to merc,

    Dieu et mon droit!

    Dieu et mon gauche?
    tres...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4845 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4233 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to DeepRed,

    Because Key needs to be covered and Banks is ACT, all very predictable.

    In Key's case, he is several steps removed from what happened during the last Auckland mayoralty campaign - and can thus at least try to distance himself to a degree from Banks.

    I see what he did there,

    The public have become hardened to such realities and how major party leaders have to turn a blind eye to indiscretions by their minor party support partners. If they did not, Governments would topple at regular intervals.

    From Todd in comments,

    2.6 The Prime Minister alone has the right to advise the Governor-General to:a)appoint, dismiss, or accept the resignation of Ministers;
    b)dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Well no - a bit of evolution-in-action would kick in and what we would get would be a better quality of minor support partners .... if you never kick out the bad ones no one ever learns and a bit of institutional memory is a good thing - sadly after this no one will find themselves saying "remember what happened to Banksy, let's not make that mistake"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2125 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to merc,

    I suspect it's also the same kind of law being an ass that lets pseudo-meritocracy off the hook in America.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4233 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    So he'll be lying at the next election

    zing

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    The headline for this item is spot on. The decision to not file charges is not surprising but I do fear that too often, NZ Police have not pressed charges when political figures are involved (and yes, I am thinking all the way back to Paintergate). Perhaps every decision has been entirely fair, but the pattern that's developing in my mind is worrying (though perhaps I've been in NSW too long?).

    In the other thread on this, is a suggestion that an agency other than the Police should determine whether charges are laid. That has an appeal. I may be wrong, but it appears that is the case in NSW where the Director of Public Prosecurtions is the Agency that decides whether or not a prosecution will be undertaken (perhaps though I'm confusing prosecution and charges?) Either way, this case somewhat illustrates my point

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2229 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Yes, paintergate does spring to mind. Though I think Banks deed is far worese than Clark's.

    What it represents, to me, is the ongoing and gradual erosion of a NZ society - equal treatment for all in the eyes of the law. It is said that Justice is blind - however - she turns a blind eye much too often.

    What amazes me is Nick Smith goes but Banks stays as "Minister for Small Business".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1188 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to DexterX,

    Intent plays a large part in law I am told - and who is to profit from the act? I don't think Helen Clark's intention was to deceive or defraud (Paintergate). Mr Teapot on the other hand knew those donations were there and who they were from - by definition, not anonymous, however.
    Now let's agree that Helen wanted that money from that painting to go to charity. For what purpose was the Dotcom donation made? Who was to gain?
    None of these questions is small, but we will never know because the law is weak, however it takes a very cunning person to manipulate it so and a very ambiguous PM to not recognise this as such.
    While all this goes on all politicians are tarred with the same brush though they may be of an altogether different disposition.
    The silence to remedy the weak law is deafening. My solution at the least - all documents you sign, you are culpable for, simple.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

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