Monday 30 April 2012, 11:49 | By

MegaUpload chief gets back some of his assets

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Kim Schmitz

MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz has won back in the region of $750,000 worth of his fortune after a court hearing in New Zealand.

The boss of the controversial file-transfer business is currently facing extradition from New Zealand to the US, of course, where he faces charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement in relation to the Mega enterprise. His multi-million dollar fortune was seized by the New Zealand authorities at the request of the Americans when he and several other Mega execs were arrested back in January.

It subsequently emerged that the New Zealand police had secured the wrong kind of warrant before raiding Schmitz’s home which, the tech man’s lawyers argued, made the whole operation illegal, and meant their client should get all his stuff back.

In a court hearing about Schmitz’s belongings last week, the New Zealand High Court said that a bank account containing just over $300,000 should be unfrozen, and a $250,000 Mercedes should be returned. The defendant’s wife will also get money to fund her living expenses out of Schmitz’s fortune, and the use of a Toyota Vellfire.

However, the majority of Schmitz’s assets will remain out of bounds while the criminal case against the Mega chief goes through the motions. And a bulk of the money made available to Schmitz last week will likely go on legal fees, with criminal proceedings to prepare for in both New Zealand and the US, not to mention the prospect of various civil claims by copyright owners, mainly in the States.

Though, as also previously reported, legal reps for Schmitz and the other Mega execs, none of whom are currently in the US, are confident that they can successfully fight off America’s extradition attempts, mainly because the core copyright charges against their clients do not command a high enough jail term in America to justify extradition. Criminal charges linked to the Mega company itself are hard to formally press, because the firm didn’t have a corporate base within the USA.

It was thought the extradition hearing for Schmitz et al would take place in August, though some local media in New Zealand are now pointing towards a September court date.

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