David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Dotcom quizzed on extravagance, video games at bail hearing

Kim Dotcom.
Kim Dotcom.

Kim Dotcom was quizzed on how much time he spent playing video games when he could have been working on his extradition case during a hearing over an alleged breach of his bail conditions.

The questions came during a hearing in the Auckland District Court, with claims Dotcom had made so much money since he was arrested he was now a greater flight risk and allegations he had breached bail conditions in early 2012.

Christine Gordon QC said the United States wanted Judge Nevin Dawson to either send Dotcom back to prison or put an electronic bail system in place.

The attempt to put the internet entrepreneur back in jail comes almost three years after he was released to live in his Coatesville mansion, north of Auckland. Dotcom has rejected any breach of bail and insists the claims have no substance.

As part of the US case, Crown lawyer Mike Ruffin questioned Dotcom over the amount of time he devoted to video games.

Ruffin: "How much time a day do you spend gaming?"

Dotcom: "It's my hobby. A couple of hours a day. I did spend quite a bit of time when Call of Duty Modern Warfare came out because I wanted to be number one. I spent 30 hours [playing] non-stop."

Ruffin said tweets made during gaming sessions showed time being used which could have been used otherwise.

One tweet which came during the return of cloned evidence led to Mr Ruffin asking: "Wouldn't [focusing on] that have provided a lot of information for your hearing?"

Evidence drawn during the hearing revealed Dotcom had made $40 million through new businesses since being arrested in 2012.

The spending that followed included $1 million on making and advertising Dotcom's music album Good Times, the court was told. Dotcom also confirmed the $4.5 million spent on funding the Internet Party, $80,000 a month to rent his mansion and $10 million on a legal defence.

He said the money earned had gone into the family trust - the Trust Me Trust - and bills were paid from the same source.

He said he was no longer a beneficiary of the family trust, signing control over to his estranged wife, Mona, this week.

The Crown also alleged Dotcom was involved in efforts to sell a $500,000 Rolls-Royce in Europe which should have been surrendered to authorities.

It was also alleged he had "indirect" contact with co-accused at large in Europe, which would have breached a condition of bail between February and April 2012.

Dotcom said he had stopped any efforts to sell the Rolls-Royce once he found out there were attempts to do so - and asked why the US had still not taken steps to seize it. He denied having contact with former Megaupload staff also charged by the FBI, saying evidence showed the efforts being made to maintain his court-imposed conditions. "Everybody was careful not to breach my bail."

Dotcom's new lawyer, Ron Mansfield, dismissed assertions interests in gaming and politics showed his client was "not that interested in proceedings". "Gaming [for Dotcom] is a bit like another individual playing tennis," he said. The Crown would never suggest bail be revoked for someone who played a lot of tennis.

Mr Mansfield said the court had no jurisdiction to conduct the bail hearing because of fundamental legal errors in the application from the US.

He said it was a "weak" submission made with a "lack of thought".

Even if the case had been properly made, he said the evidence produced did not support claims there had been a breach.

He also said there was no credible evidence Dotcom was a flight risk.

With Dotcom seated in the back of the court, Mr Mansfield stated the obvious: "He's still here."

The hearing continues on Monday.

A beef stew

The gulf between Kim Dotcom's internet savvy world and the court process was illustrated during the Kim Dotcom bail hearing.

Asked what his post-raid business was, Dotcom said he helped create Mega, a "cloud storage website".

Judge Nevin Dawson: "A what website?"

Dotcom: "Cloud storage."

Judge Dawson noted and said: "Cow storage."

Dotcom, looking exasperated, corrected: "Cloud storage."

- NZ Herald

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