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18 March, 2012

Kim Dotcom Could Get Seized Property Back After Paperwork Mistake

Kim Dotcom Could Get Seized Property Back After Paperwork Mistake
By Alex Fitzpatrick For Mashable
 New Zealand authorities announced they made a procedural mistake before taking the property of Kim Dotcom, the founder of MegaUpload. He may now be able to reclaim $17.8 million of his seized assets and $6.8 million in frozen cash.

Those assets were seized with the wrong kind of court order, according to the New Zealand Herald. A judge presiding over the case declared the order used in the seizure “null and void,” having “no legal effect.”

Police attempted to switch to the correct form of court order after they seized Dotcom’s assets. The new order was granted on a temporary basis, but a judge will decide shortly whether the mix-up means Dotcom can reclaim his property.

Dotcom was arrested at his Auckland, New Zealand mansion in January on a request from the U.S. Government. He was wanted by the Department of Justice under suspicion of running the “Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale.”

The U.S. has asked New Zealand to extradite Dotcom so he may stand trial for digital piracy in American courts. He’s been charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dotcom has brushed off those claims as “nonsense,” instead claiming that Megaupload offered “online storage and bandwidth” to users, not a means to transfer pirated goods and content.

Much to the chagrin of users who use MegaUpload to store legitimately owned data, the fate of the website’s servers remains unclear.

Dotcom was released on bail last month, despite arguments from the U.S. that he might flee New Zealand for a country less likely to hand him over to American authorities. His extradition hearing is scheduled for August.

BONUS: The Strange and Epic Lifestyle of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom

1. MegaRacer Domination Ends
Until recently, Kim Dotcom was the top Modern Warfare 3 player in the world. He even apparently posted a video to prove it. We imagine it's tough to maintain such a coveted position while being held in jail for multiple copyright violations.

The Megaupload kingpin claims to have paid $500,000 for the City of Auckland to put on a 2011 New Year's firework display. In case any Kiwi were to forget who was funding the awesomeness, he produced a video replete with on-screen identification of his whereabouts during the show. "Yeah, that's me in my personal helicopter!"

3. Mega Man
Dotcom stands 6 feet 7 inches tall, and tips the scales at 300 pounds, according to CNET. No one really knows his exact measurements though. All reports we've seen have him measured differently so whatever his exact height and weight are, it's easy to see that his physical size matches his personality and ego.

4. Surname Switch
He legally changed his surname from Schmitz to Dotcom in homage to the beloved World Wide Web that made him famous.

5. Financial Bravado and a 9/11 Bounty
He once fancied himself an anti-terrorism fighter by offering a bounty of $10 million for Osama bin Laden after 9/11. He started a group called Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism. He was so kind as to offer the authorities on the hunt a little of his own advice:
"Try Looking in Kandahar in Afghanistan. He visits his wife and daughter there at least once a month."
Image courtesy of iStockVesnaandjic

According to Vanity Fair, Dotcom is a "skilled and very fast driver" who raced in and won the Gumball 3000 in 2005. He bet that he would beat two of the female drivers. If they finished before him, he'd give them each $500,000. If he won, they had to join him in a threesome. No report on what came of that.
According to the Wall Street Journal, we do know that when he was arrested, police confiscated 21 luxury cars.

Even when the game seemed to be up, Mr. Dotcom orchestrated a flamboyant exit. Police had to cut their way through electronic locks to a saferoom, where they found him clutching a gun.
Image courtesy of iStockzentilia

Dotcom generated a spectacle wherever he went, often surrounded by cars and women, and wearing his trademark black outfit. He was even known to jump into hot tubs fully clothed. He made movies about himself racing cars, flirting with women, and riding in helicopters and private jets.

9. Dubious Wealth Creation
According to The New York Times, in 2001 he reportedly made more than $1 million when he allegedly bought shares in a struggling website, then falsely announced he would make a major investment, only to then sell his shares once the price went up after his announcement. He then defended himself by appearing on a popular late-night show, claiming people hated him because they didn't like his lifestyle. He then fled to Thailand before ultimately being apprehended.
 

10. Big Time Friends
He commissioned this well-produced music video starring many celebrities supporting the site, ostensibly in part to rub Megaupload in the face of copyright holders. Much controversy ensued.

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