Dotcoms get $30,000 for 3 weeks living expenses

By Hayley Hannan

Megaupload millionaire Kim Dotcom's release on bail has been upheld. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Megaupload millionaire Kim Dotcom's release on bail has been upheld. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Mona Dotcom has returned home with her bailed German millionaire husband and just over $30,000 to live on for the next three weeks.

Two hearings at the High Court at Auckland today dealt with different aspects of the Kim Dotcom case.

The United States Government is seeking to extradite Dotcom and three New Zealand-based associates on charges including copyright infringement and wire fraud relating to the file-sharing website Megaupload - in what prosecutors allege was a "mega conspiracy".

In one courtroom, Justice Tim Brewer dismissed a crown appeal on behalf of the US Government against a decision on February 22 to grant Dotcom electronic bail.

Judge Brewer said electronically monitored bail mitigated the flight risk. He said he was not certain Dotcom would not try to flee the country, but the law didn't require him to be certain.

Dotcom now faces an extradition hearing in August.

Outside court, he said he was happy to be returning home with his family, and was looking forward to fighting the "charges on a level playing field".

"I don't want to say anything else right now. I think it's better to let the events unfold. But I can certainly say that a lot of people will be very surprised about the outcome of all this."

Asked whether she was happy to have her husband home, a heavily pregnant Mrs Dotcom said "yes, very much".

As Dotcom walked away with a protective arm around his wife, in another hearing at the High Court Judge Judith Potter concluded a hearing over his restrained assets.

Millions of dollars worth of assets and bank accounts in Dotcom's business empire were frozen when international and local bank accounts, assets and property were placed under restraining orders following his arrest in January.

Separate lawyers for Dotcom and his wife argued today that $300,000 in a RaboBank account which was not subject to the restraining order be urgently released to the Dotcom family to cover living and other expenses.

Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey said affidavits from both Dotcom and Mrs Dotcom put monthly costs at $220,465.56 to cover various security, staff and living costs.

The costs included paying staff such as nannies, a butler and Mrs Dotcom's personal assistant.

She said some of the costs were "extraordinary", and the amount differed to the original $10,000 a month indicated at negotiations earlier this month.

Ms Toohey said one of Dotcom's Coatesville properties could be leased, and existing assets such as jewellery and art could be sold to help cover costs.

William Akel, representing Dotcom and his business associate Bram van der Kolk, argued that a monthly payment of $28,000 for living expenses, $29,000 for staff and "one-off" payments were requested.

Dotcom sought payments to cover the rent of his Coatesville mansion, which totals $1 million per year, and a payment towards the maintenance costs of the property, estimated to be $600,000 a year.

Judge Judith Potter agreed to release a Toyota Vellfire van and $32,650 to Mrs Dotcom for the next three weeks before another hearing on March 21; a sum of $12,650 to cover medical costs, and $20,000 to cover living expenses.

Van der Kolk, one of three men arrested at the same time as Dotcom in a series of raids across Auckland in January, was granted $10,000 from one of his bank accounts holding more than $500,000, and his wife has been granted the use of a 2005 Mercedes.

The interim restraining order on Dotcom's money and properties was extended until the next hearing.

A total of $74,000 was released to pay creditors of Megastuff Ltd, one of the companies in which Dotcom is the major shareholder.

Justice Potter said she was allowing time for counsels to try and reach an agreement between them.

Meanwhile, Ms Toohey was expecting more information tonight from US authorities about whether Mrs Dotcom was involved in her husband's company.

She told the hearing today she had received a preliminary application from the US and was seeking to clarify it with US prosecutors.

- APNZ

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