The only person convicted of the Megaupload copyright charges over which Kim Dotcom is facing extradition has walked free from prison in the United States - but has a $266 million debt hanging over his head.
Andrus Nomm was sentenced to a federal prison in the US in February this year after cutting a plea bargain deal with the FBI over his role in the Megaupload operation.
Dotcom and three others arrested in New Zealand in 2012 are waiting to discover the outcome of an extradition hearing which could lead to them facing US courts over allegations of criminal copyright violation. The charges carry sentences stretching into decades.
Documents from the court case show most of the charges faced by other defendants were dropped in Nomm's case.
His charges were reduced to two of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, with money laundering and racketeering charges dropped.
However, his conviction came with a financial sting - he was held responsible for the $266 million (US$175 million) in damages the copyright holders were said to have suffered. The US was granted the power to "collect said judgment by all available means". The money was described as the "proceeds of the offence".
Nomm's testimony was also heard in the extradition hearing which finished this week. "Andrus Nomm confirms they knew they were making money directly from ... copyright content on Mega sites," said Christine Gordon, QC. Dotcom said last night that Nomm had opted for the plea deal after being trapped in the Netherlands for three years with little money, no job and no way of seeing his son.
"He grew more and more depressed and just wanted to get out.
"One year in jail was his way out. I don't blame him. I can understand why Andrus did it."