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Dotcom stays free

UPDATE: Kim Dotcom will remain free on bail. 

In the High Court at Auckland this afternoon, Justice Tim Brewer upheld the February 22 North Shore District Court decision to grant Kim Dotcom bail, dismissing a Crown appeal on behalf of the US government.

Justice Brewer said for Mr Dotcom to be incarcerated for the next six months the risk of fight had to be real.

Justice Brewer conceded he could not be certain Mr Dotcom would not flee country, but he was not required to be certain to grant bail.

He agreed with the District Court judge that Mr Dotcom did not represent a risk to the safety of the public. Mr Dotcom’s alleged crimes concerned intellectual property violation, not violence.

“Of course there is a possibility that somewhere there is a bank account with millions of dollars in it,” Justice Brewer said.

Assets to the value of $US40 million had been seized so far, Justice Brewer said: “Mr Dotcom is a very wealthy man who has had all his identified assets seized or frozen.”

The Crown had argued that one of Mr Dotcom's network of 'mega' sites, Megapay, had accounts in the Phillipines that were not subject to the restraint on assets.

US authorities had not yet been able to analyse evidence seized from Mr Dotcom and it was unreasonable to think the authorities would have been able to identify any new funds in the short time since his dramatic arrest, she said.

"Any emergency fund he has is likely to be well disguised and unlikely to be in New Zealand," Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey said.

UPDATE Wed: After another night of freedom, Kim Dotcom faces an anxious wait today until Justice Tim Brewer rules on the Crown's bid to appeal bail.

A decision due at 4.30pm today in the Auckland High Court.

Mr Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison QC, said his client could face 25 weeks in jail ahead of an extradition hearing if bail was revoked.

UPDATE Tues 4pmIn the Auckland High Court, Justice Tim Brewer reserved his decision on Kim Dotcom's fate till 4:30pm tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Dotcom's high profile lawyer Paul Davison QC responded to the Crown's arguments presented earlier in the day.

Mr Davison said that Mr Dotcom should not have to prove he had money stashed away - one of the main reasons for assessing him as a flight-risk.

Instead, it was up to the Crown to prove Mr Dotcom had hidden money.

HOME SWEET HOMES: The $4.2 million house Kim Dotcom bougth in December (left) and the adjoining $30 million mansion he rents from Chrisco founders Richard and Ruth Bradley (right). Click to zoom.

Earlier today, lawyers for the Crown told the court it believed Mr Dotcom had  money squirreled away and access to assets beyond those under restraint (worth about $20 million). It was also estimated he earned as much as $US68.1 million in the years between 2007-2010 - well beyond what had currently been identified in his multiple frozen bank accounts.

The Crown feared Mr Dotcom would flee to Germany, which has no extradiction treaty with the US.

However, Mr Davison said there was no missing money. The discrepancy could be explained by Mr Dotcom's every day expense burden, which included maintaining a household with 40 staff and renting the top floor of the Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong.

Mr Davison also said the Crown's fear Mr Dotcom would flee the country made no sense, because an escape would require him to turn his back on his New Zealand assets and put his family in an uncomfortable position.

Mr Dotcom had, so far, met the strict conditions of his bail, which included no internet access at his rented Coatesville mansion, Mr Davison said.

Technicians had disabled all devices capable of providing internet access and signs were up around the property banning 3G-capable devices on the property. Similar provisions had been made at Mr Dotcom's adjoining property.

These steps were above and beyond what was required of bail conditions, Mr Davison said.

UPDATE Tues: 2pmThe US government believes Mr Dotcom has more money stashed away.

Crown Law lawyer Anne Toohey, on behalf of the US government, has told the court there was a risk Mr Dotcom had money somewhere else that had not come to light at this point.

This is part of the US government's argument to have Mr Dotcom, released on bail last week, returned to jail. (Mr Dotcom is present in High Court this afternoon, wearning a baggy polar fleece and Crocs).

Ms Toohey told the court Mr Dotcom's financial affairs could not be easily quantified due to the international scale and complexity of his business and investments.

It was known that one of his network of 'mega' sites, Megapay, had accounts in the Phillipines that were not subject to the restraint on assets.

US authorities had not yet been able to analyse evidence seized from Mr Dotcom and it was unreasonable to think the authorities would have been able to identify any new funds in the short time since his dramatic arrest, she said.

"Any emergency fund he has is likely to be well disguised and unlikely to be in New Zealand," Ms Toohey said.

US authorities had estimated Mr Dotcom's income, by way of tracking email traffic related to payments received, as  ranging from $53.9 million to $68.1 million in the years between 2007 and 2010.

A more up-to-date income estimate was not available.

The court will hear from Mr Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, this afternoon.

UPDATE Tues 12.30pm: Kim Dotcom is in Auckland High Court this afternoon as the US tries to get him put back in jail.

Crown Law, on behalf of the US government, is appealing bail granted to the alleged internet pirate in the North Shore District Court on Wednesday last week. 

The US government's argument is based on the fact there has not been a material change in Mr Dotcom's circumstances since his arrest.

Lawyer for the Crown, Anne Toohey, has told the court the US government believes Mr Dotcom has the money to arrange forged travel documents or travel outside New Zealand, covertly should he choose to do so.

Mr Dotcom had a history of changing his name and had, prior to his arrest, been operating at least one other bank account under a different name.

There was evidence his finances were effectively the same and US authorities had identified assets, including a Rolls Royce Phantom worth half-a-million dollars, that had not been restrained. It was also alleged he had art and furniture - some in New Zealand and some in a Hyatt apartment he maintained permanently in Hong Kong.

Ms Toohey told the court it was estimated that assets of Mr Dotcom's worth about $20 million dollars had been restrained.

There was also the suggestion Mr Dotcom could exploit criminal connections, Crown Law argued.

Update Tues 8am: Kim Dotcom is due in Auckland High Court this morning as the US government tries to put him back in jail.

The internet tycoon was granted bail to his rented mansion in Coatesville, north of Auckland on Wednesday as he awaits an extradition hearing.

But the Crown, on behalf of the US government, is appealing the decision of the North Shore District Court to release him.

The US government wants the German multimillionaire back in jail so he can not flee the country.

Mr Dotcom was arrested, at the request of the US, on charges of criminal copyright violation last month.

He spent a month in jail after the January 20 raid on his Megaupload business.

Mr Dotcom was freed on February 22 to live at his Coatesville mansion on the condition he does not use the internet.

Nor is he allowed access to a helicopter, or otherwise travel more than 80km from his residence.

ROOM WITH A VIEW: The $30 million Coatesville mansion rented by Kim Dotcom, photographed on February 8. (Photographer: Ben Gracewood. Pilot: Vaughn Davis. Click image to enlarge)

Comments and questions

Wonder who paying for all this (on both sides)?
I'll be pretty p*ssed if its you and me taxpayer !

Crown Law represents the NZ Government, so the taxpayer there. Kim has no money, so it's probably the taxpayer paying for Legal Aid there too. According to a Campbell Live interview, the US government will not be required to repay the costs of this fiasco.

What a joke. NZ needs to send a strong message that we are not in the pockets of the US

I don't think NZ is in the pocket of the US government. But I'd like to know whose pockets Dotcon's hand went into in New Zealand to get a visa when he didn't qualify for one. Still waiting for the media to do their job and find out that one.

Or is this another example of the Bail Laws being too easy...?

judging by recent bail decisions Dotcom may have been better off kidnapping someone.

At the end of the day we are the poodle of the USA, look at the way this was conducted from the outset, orchestrated by a country with the persona of an agressive 13 year old boy.

I think John Key is an American, He comes over here sells our SoEs to his NY Banking bosses, sells our justice system to the very people that disregard due process and have institutionalised torture and assaination without trial..... FREE KIM DOTCOM, lock up the Americans for war crimes

You've got to be kidding me! He's on electronic bail, he's a huge dude, unmissable at the border. I can only think the US embassy demanded that he go back to gaol and when our masters speak we act. Waste of money and precious court time. All this money we're spending he better be guilty of something, if he ends up walking away scott free I hope our govt sends the bill to the Whitehouse...yeah right! If we can catch 2 military trained French terrorists trying to skip the country then we can surely catch one large German computer geek.

Corrupt war criminals of the US refused NZ's extradition request for the leader of the Rainbow Warrior terrorist attack in Auckland harbour , who was working in Washington for Belgian Arms company Armalite supplying covert US forces with untraceable weapons for murdering people in other countries.
The current corrupt NZ govt is just a pawn and accessory of war criminals and state instituted terrorism.
The extradition treaty, like all treaties with the US only works one way... the torturing mass murdering way of the nation that deploys Depleted Uranium ordinance and drones and assassination squads against civilian targets... and the KIm Dotcom attacks were more likely about stopping groups like wikileaks from embarrassing the war criminals!

This is a disgrace, Keys has his head that far up Uncle Sam's butt that all he can see id tonsils.Mark Hotchin has a right to an allowance from his assets and Dotcom gets nothing. It is time for NZers to stand up and be counted and protest against the treatment of Dotcom.

I hear the judge who originally jailed Kim Dotcom is the same guy who let a criminal out on bail who then went out and killed Christie Marceau. What a screw up! Kim Dotcom should remain on bail

That comparison is facile.

That comparison is facile.

That comparison is facile.

I think his size is the USA's problem. He might blend into the US population too easily

a good argument by the Crown might be that Dotcom has blatantly broken copyright laws and celebrated his piracy.
Now, as he is being called to account, it should not be open to him to claim he will abide by the law.

I thought in NZ the presumption of innocence came to the fore. NZ should refuse the extradition request and unfreeze Dotcom's assets.The USA refused to entertain the Rainbow Warrior extradition request and that was a terrorist attack. Dotcom is a huge asset (no pun intended) to this country and should be welcomed with open arms

its worth noting that NZ and its lifestyle and freedoms owes a lot to the US and its IT entrepreneurs,
This seems to be being lost at all levels but wont and shouldnt be taken lying down.

what a load of crap, we owe nothing to the US and its government.

What is a disgrace is as "J B" states, the judge David McNaughton allowed a criminal to be set free on bail and live within 350m of his eventual victim, uses the same guidelines to hold Dotcom without bail.

It defies belief that the judge was not "influenced" by someone with more power than the police, as he ignored the police's plees to keep Chirstie's killer behind bars.

None of the above should be construed as support for Dotcom, if any of us ran a business that relied on payment for use of our copyright material (software, films, music) we would view Dotcom as a leech who is redirecting income from the copyright owners to himself, THEFT is any ones language, and on a grand scale.

Run Forrest! Run!!

What leeway does Crown Law have to reject the requests of US government in this case? I understand they are acting (broadly) as required by various international agreements, but are they required by those agreements to keep requesting Dotcom be held in remand? Can they just say "no"?

It's incredibly frustrating to watch this insanity as a taxpayer and citizen. Just stop and let due process take it's course? If their argument for returning him to jail is that his situation hasn't changed, is it likely to before the extradition hearing in August? Or do they want him in jail for six months before that?

With Key rushing legislation through under urgency so frequently during his previous term, raising GST when he said he wouldn't, now the disgusting Dotcom issue...
I am starting to think this great nation of ours has lost its way. And it all happened so quickly.

I have no sympathy for Dotcom; he's been a parasitie on other people's property. But he should remain on bail.

Perhaps the CEO of NZ Post should be arrested and have his belongings confiscated for all the pirated DVDs and CDs his organization has delivered?

You "boast' a very limited and narrow bandwith, Lemon. Tenuous and unreliable.

SO Stoopid. BUT sadly, that seems to be the IQ level of the av. NZ voter. is a parasite and if he does get back to Germany it will be NZs fault.

How can they keep him locked up because they 'think' he has money somewhere, no proof at all !! If he was going to run he would have done so already last week.

just tax him - he might earn enother to get this country out of debt that our useless poliitions has left us with

five to one on sez he's heading back in.

any takers??

Google also provides links to copyrighted content and profits from it. We should extradite the heads of Google to New Zealand.

But yes, great to see the Crown bending over and grabbing its ankles in front of the Americans. Embarrassing to be a Kiwi at the moment.

More claims of "weapons of mass destruction" from the US. Just this time it is someone living in NZ that the claim is aimed at. I assume Mr Dotcom was paying his way in taxes, helping to reduce our borrowings.

This nonsense will be sanctioned at the highest level. John Key needs to explain.

Dotcom is a businessman, not in the eyes of the recording giants but to the internet movie and music buffs. He made millions for himself and spent it frivolously. This will not stop pirating but the US needs examples of there might, for credibility of new introduce pirating policy's.

At least he spent it here. Ask some car dealers , the owner of the Chrisco mansion.
And the Auckland City Council. We need him.
Anyone else here in NZ with any dosh has most likely stolen it one way or another.

Key should grow a pair and tell the US to back off. There is no justification to jail Dotcom (paid for by our taxes - as is the circus in our courts). If the US are concerned about him doing a runner, perhaps they can provide agents to guard Dotcom mansion. I'm sure that they have it under surveillance!

if we revoke his bail then ALL out on bail need to have their bail revoked immediately - only issue is where we put them all!

other than missing money - only allegations at this stage, and Dotcom says he will provide a substantial defense, i see no reason for the tax payer to be burdened anymore. OH but wait, i wonder if any judges listened to the Christies Law demostration earlier this week - i doubt it. just goes to show how far out of touch some judges in NZ really are. the Dotcom case being one - we have 2 different judges doing to 2 different things based on the same evidence

yes, one appointed under a labour regime - the other by national. will be interesting....

Re your photo caption, above

Crocs are "plastic" but they aren't "cheap".

forget Fox in Socks, there's a new book - Socks in Crocs..

forget Fox in Socks, there's a new book - Socks in Crocs..

Innocent until proven guilty. Enough said.

Onto other news...about his plastic Crocs. Would you want to wear Armani shoes to prison? Thought not.

So if Kim Dotcom is not extradited and found not-guilty of the crimes he is charged with, who will pay for all of this, and will Kim Dotcom seek out damages he has suffered at N.Z. hands?

Justice Tim Brewer RULES!

That's one small step for Kim, one giant leap backwards for US Empire

Disgarceful pandering to the loony USA authorities and NZ legal fraternity who don't have the balls to tell the Americans to take a hike and also tell them they have no jurisdiction over NZ law.

The NZ legal fraternity all have small appendages and bend over to the larger US machine.
Times have changed and in recent years the USA has proven it is now a former world power, not the world leader

Das ist ein kleiner iPhone 5 für Kim, ein grosser DubyaTreppen ärsoverturkey zum US-blitzkreig

Pampering to the US authorities NZ has will do way more damage to our trade with China than the Crafar farms sale ever will..

What about some consistency with trading partners. What favours do we owe the US? The exort us through their banking system; which is essentially private, flog us to death with engineered high oil prices, pressure us to buy their military equipment and not happy with this, lobby politicians to get their hands on controlling stakes in our monopoly industries.

This debacle makes me ashamed to be a NZer. The law is the law, including treaties. The issue here is the obscenely craven pandering to the slowly dying US empire. They are not yet gone-not by decades but this whole affair is disgusting and shameful but exactly what we citizens get from the Crown every day. Wake up dummies-they come for you next.

If we told the USA to stuff off, we might score a few points with china.

I'd rather have a hundred kim dotcoms spending their lucre here than just the one scum that we breed that got just 10 years today.

Let the US get their hands on him. Kim's a thief on a grand scale. Clever, sure. But a thief none the less. Lock him up and throw away the key.

The US will have their chance to get their hands on him when it comes time for his extradition hearing.

In the mean time there's hardly any good reason to remand him for six months on the entirely unsubstantiated speculation that he has access to large amounts of liquid assets and that he will seek to flee the country.

Let the US hold their bankers who sold toxic assets then betted against them to account first. Once they demonstrate some integrity with hundreds of billions, perhaps we can find them a little more credible in this case.