Kim Dotcom has partially unlocked access to a $50 million pool of cash in Hong Kong to pay for living expenses and legal bills after telling a judge he had no more money available in New Zealand, it has been reported.
A written judgment is not yet available but South China Morning Post is reporting the internet entrepreneur got access to $80,000 a month after telling a Hong Kong judge he was broke and needed access to money in Hong Kong seized at the request of the United States.
Dotcom is facing extradition to the US along with three others living in New Zealand after the 2012 worldwide raid that saw his Megaupload business shut down. A judge is deciding whether the US has presented enough evidence to warrant extradition.
It's been almost four years since the raid, at which time the US sought court orders in a range of countries restraining Dotcom's wealth. In New Zealand, he has been able to argue for access to millions of dollars of restrained money for living and legal expenses.
The $50 million in Hong Kong, where Dotcom and Megaupload had been based, was also restrained, although a successful legal challenge a year ago opened the way for the money to be unlocked.
The Post reported that Dotcom's lawyer, Gerard McCoy, SC, told the court his client's "hands were tied behind his back" and denying access to the money was "not allowing him to use his own money to defend the cases against him". Mr McCoy splits work between Hong Kong and a post as a professor at the University of Canterbury.
Aside from the money for living expenses, about $600,000 was also sought for legal expenses although it was not reported whether it was a lump sum or monthly payments.
The application was opposed with allegations Dotcom had failed to declare all his assets. There were claims Dotcom had not declared details of his living costs, including large sums paid in electricity bills.
The court found the details were declared in New Zealand hearings. "I am satisfied that Dotcom is not able to meet his own [expenses]," the Post reported the judge as saying. The original claim was reported as being for $170,000 a month. A part of the claim which sought money to pay lawyers in New Zealand, including Dotcom's former lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, was rejected.