Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Dotcom ordered to reveal his assets

A judge has ordered internet mogul Kim Dotcom to reveal his assets after fears he is asset-dumping by bankrolling his internet Party.

Major movie studios and records labels are suing Dotcom and his associates.

20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros claim Dotcom-founded Megaupload and its key operators "facilitated, encouraged, and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows" before it was shut down in 2012.

They have filed a civil lawsuit in the US against Dotcom, Megaupload, majority shareholder Vester Ltd, chief technical officer Mathias Ortmann, and programmer Bram van der Kolk.

The studios claim the defendants generated more than US$175 million in illicit profits and cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.

The movie studios are seeking profits and damages from the defendants, and through the High Court in Auckland sought freezing orders against Dotcom.

They are worried that although Dotcom is subject to orders restraining the disposition of assets in New Zealand, he may have assets "that are outside the scope of the criminal restraining orders and is disposing of them".

In a judgment out today, Justice Patricia Courtney was satisfied there was evidence that Dotcom was making "very substantial payments" to the internet Party, and that he had offered a US$5 million "bounty" for information on any "unlawful or corrupt conduct" by entities associated with the US Government or Hollywood.

It led her to conclude that "there is a danger that any judgment obtained by the applicants will go unsatisfied, partly or wholly, as a result of Mr Dotcom disposing of assets".

"I am satisfied that the applicants have shown a good arguable case for damages in excess of $11.8 million, being the value of the New Zealand assets currently subject to the criminal restraining orders."

Dotcom has until August 20 to file and serve an affadavit setting out the nature, extent and value of his assets "wherever they are located and identifying the nature of his interest in them".

Lawyers for the movie studios argued during the High Court hearing of last Tuesday that Dotcom had put at least $4 million into the internet Party.

They also showed that Dotcom had made several statements on Twitter where he offered a US$5m bounty for information from any whistle blower.

And they also showed social media action by Dotcom where he reported on "apparently extravagant" recent holidays where he had travelled between Auckland and Queenstown by helicopter.

In a separate court action today, the Court of Appeal reserved its decision over whether to continue to have Dotcom's assets frozen ahead of his extradition hearing.

The Megaupload founder had restraining orders placed on his assets, including cash, cars, jewellery and property, after his arrest in January 2012 on behalf of the United States which wants him to stand trial on copyright and money-laundering charges.

But in April this year, the High Court in Auckland refused to extend the two-year freeze because the request for an extension was filed on a civil, rather than a criminal, basis, meaning it differed from the original application.

The Crown appealed that decision and an argument was heard at the Court of Appeal today.

The judges reserved their decision on whether the freeze should be continued for another year.

- APNZ

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