David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

New moves to detail Dotcom allegations

Kim Dotcom. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kim Dotcom. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Kim Dotcom case could turn into an $80 million scramble for cash - and see the full allegations against the tycoon aired publicly for the first time.

New moves by US prosecutors aim to lift a suppression order which covers details of the allegations against Dotcom and others who worked on the Megaupload website.

The details were to have been made public at the extradition hearing, scheduled for April next year.

But prosecutors say the case has dragged on so long they need to make the details public now or victims of the alleged crime will miss out on a chance to claim against Dotcom's seized fortune.

The victims - in this case - are copyright holders of works the FBI claim was made available illegally by Dotcom through his Megaupload website.

Extradition judge Nevin Dawson has been asked by the Crown Law Office - acting for the US - to lift the suppression on the charges.

The details are contained in the Record of Case - a 198-page document, including attachments, which has been suppressed since March 2012.

Christine Gordon QC, acting for the US, said it had been an "extraordinarily long period of time" since the arrests.

She said US prosecutors had to notify possible victims whose "rights are likely to expire very shortly".

"This is a case where no one in the court expected it would be more than two years from the date the initial suppression order was made until the hearing itself.

"It means the clock has been running in the US. There is a real urgency in having this heard."

Judge Dawson has deferred a decision until the outcome of a US court hearing this week.
In US court papers, Dotcom's legal team have rejected the bid, saying the early release of details would affect the ability of Dotcom and three others facing extradition to have a fair trial.

The twist in the case comes after the US district court in East Virginia issued a secret ruling last month ordering US prosecutors to distribute information about the case in trade publications and by press release, in case potential victims unaware of it wanted to assert their rights.

Doing so requires the suppression order to be lifted in New Zealand.

Dotcom's lawyers have gone to the US court saying the order should not have been made in secret. Lawyer Ira Rothken said the US had "manufactured" urgency after two years in which it sought to keep details of the case secret. He said the government wanted to "widely disseminate a one-sided, cherry-picked set of facts" which would "infect the jury pool".

The US, in response, said Dotcom was a fugitive and had "no right to opine on the court's procedures from halfway around the world" and should not be heard.

They also told the court claims of impacting on the jury had to be contrasted with Dotcom's "close relationship" to the media and publication on line of material related to the case. He said Dotcom and his co-accused had already presented "their side of the story".

Dotcom's fortune was seized on January 20 as raids around the world brought down Megaupload. He and three others arrested in New Zealand are wanted for extradition to the US on charges of criminal copyright violation.

The exact value seized is unknown, consisting of cars, works of art and other high-value luxury items. But bank accounts and cash taken is believed to be worth about $80m.

* The Herald has supported the US application for suppression to be lifted.

- NZ Herald

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