David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Dotcom home stripped of geek chic

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Contract staff for the Official Assignee  yesterday seized artwork and possessions from the 2.16ha  Dotcom property in Coatesville, north of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Contract staff for the Official Assignee yesterday seized artwork and possessions from the 2.16ha Dotcom property in Coatesville, north of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The home where internet mogul Kim Dotcom's pregnant wife has taken refuge with their children has been seized - and so has her jewellery.

Mona Dotcom put her children to bed last night knowing the $4.3 million house neighbouring the family's mansion was now under the control of the Government, at the urging of the United States.

It was the one part of New Zealand the family had been able to buy after the Government rejected their application to buy the $30 million mansion.

Friends last night described her as shaken but strong.

The house seizure yesterday appeared in a list of belongings to be seized from the family by authorities along with art, furniture and a handful of huge TVs.

The first round of seizures was made on January 20 after a dawn raid by armed police, who arrested the German-born NZ resident.

Dotcom is in Auckland Central Remand Prison awaiting extradition to the US on copyright, money laundering and racketeering charges arising from his internet business Megaupload.

The first seizure included luxury cars and banks accounts seized at the time of the raid.

But it has emerged police officers also removed items of value that were not on the initial court order, including Mrs Dotcom's jewellery.

The jewellery did not emerge on any legal order until February 1. In that order, executed yesterday, there were 15 pieces of jewellery listed - but already taken.

Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison, QC, said last night the approach showed a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach by authorities. "They are trying to validate earlier actions and remedy deficiencies in the first process.

"The first search and seizure was undertaken on the basis of 'grab everything, look at technicalities later'."

Mr Davison said the seizure order was a continuation of an approach which was abhorrent.

"This is a family living in our country and we have allowed a foreign government to assert illegality without any qualitative assessment of whether that is valid or not.

"They're stripping everything away from this family that could have value. Everyone is presumed innocent but the family and wife are not even charged. They are being swept away by this juggernaut of power."

A police spokeswoman said police were acting on restraint orders and refused to comment because the case was before the court. A Crown Law spokeswoman also refused to comment on any aspect of the case.

The removal process yesterday was assigned to the Official Assignee, who was so concerned at the value of the items he hired specialist moving company MCL Packaging to do the job.

A giant kewpie doll-style face, with an estimated value of $150,000, was carefully carried by six men through the mansion to the truck. Others man-handled out a series of 80in televisions.

Some items were too big to move. The 2.5m tall statue of the Hollywood movie character the Predator was estimated to weigh about 4000kg.

The removal team had planned to build a crate around it and shift it with a forklift.

Official Assignee Guy Sayers said the family could live at the home while the case was at the stage of "restraining" assets. Mr Sayers said the family's position would have to be considered if the case moved from restraint to forfeit, when the Crown would attempt to legally take ownership of the property.

He said any funds derived could not legally be sent to the US. Instead, the Dotcom property would become absorbed by the New Zealand Government.

Meanwhile, in the main Coatesville mansion, which has already been seized and abandoned, a fish tank full of tropical fish remains powered and looked after - despite utility bills and caretakers' wages no longer being paid.

The fish tank was built into the mansion before Dotcom arrived.

CONFISCATED

$4.3 mvalue of house seized by NZ Govt

$150,000 value of confiscated doll face wall hanging

4000kg weight of seized life-sized Predator statue

80 in size of several televisions removed from house

- NZ Herald

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