By Laura McQuillan
Prime Minister John Key has revealed a group of contractors wanted him to advocate for Kim Dotcom's mansion purchase bid last year - but he says he was never informed of the request.
Mr Key maintains he had never heard of the internet piracy-accused German multimillionaire, who lives in a $30 million mansion in his Helensville electorate, until January 19 this year - the day before Dotcom was arrested.
Dotcom alleges Mr Key knew of him much earlier - and promises he'll back the claim up with evidence at his extradition hearing early next year.
Mr Key, who is in Cambodia for the East Asia Summit, has rejected Dotcom's accusations, but he believes he knows what they're based on.
Late on Tuesday, Mr Key revealed to media that two men, representing about 20 local contractors, visited his electorate office around August last year, to ask for Mr Key's help for Dotcom as he sought Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval to purchase his Coatesville mansion.
The contractors "wanted to be able to do more work" at the mansion, Mr Key said.
He says his electorate agent took the issue up directly with the office of the minister responsible for the OIO, Maurice Williamson, without ever telling Mr Key.
"That's what I think he'll be talking about. That's the only thing that I can think of. There's nothing else that we can find," Mr Key said.
"If he's miraculously going to find some person who he reckons whispered in my ear something, well, OK, prove the person and put them up.
"But I'll tell you now, what difference would it make whether I'd heard about the guy six months earlier? Absolutely none."
The revelation came as Mr Key refused to confirm or deny whether he and US President Barack Obama discussed Dotcom in a meeting on Tuesday morning, leading to speculation he had indeed come up.
Mr Key avoided a question on whether it was appropriate for two political leaders to discuss an extradition case.
"All I can tell you is, it's important that I have the capability to be able to have a discussion with the president of the United States of America and he knows that that would be confidential," Mr Key said.