Kim Dotcom: the ultimate timeline

The convictions back in Germany, the parties, the big spending.
Kim Dotcom (Chris Keall)

Jan 21, 1971:  Kim Schmitz (later Kim Dotcom) born in Keil, West Germany to a Finnish mother and a German father

March 1994: Arrested by police for trafficking in stolen phone calling card numbers. Held in custody for a month.

1998: Convicted of 11 counts of computer fraud, 10 counts of data espionage, and an assortment of other charges. He received a two-year suspended sentence – because, at just 20, he was declared “under age” at the time the crimes were committed.

2001: Invests €375,000 in LetsBuyIt.com, an e-tail site close to bankruptcy. Announces he is preparing to invest an additional €50 million. Shares go through the roof. Mr Dotcom cashes out, making profit of €1.5 million. It has the appearance of insider trading or a pump-and-dump scheme, and attracts the attention of authorities.

2001: The same year, Mr Dotcom founds Monkeybank, an e-payment company. Monkeybank, while struggling, gives a €280,000 unsecured loan to another of Dotcom’s companies. He is unable to repay it.

January 2002: Mr Dotcom travels to Thailand, saying his life is in danger. He is arrested and after several nights in jail extradited to Germany where he’s sentenced to 20 months’ probation and fined €100,000 over his LetsBuyIt.com share transactions.

2003: Pleads guilty to embezzlement charges over the Monkey “loan.” Receives another two years of probation.

2003: Moves to Hong Kong and sets up a web of inter-related companies for various online entrepreneurial schemes.

2005: Still in Hong Kong, Mr Dotcom founds Megaupload, which will go on to become one of the world’s most popular file-sharing sites. Most of its servers are located in the US state of West Virgina. It becomes one of the most trafficked sites on the internet by many estimates. 

Nov 2007: Meets Mona Verga in a Manila nightclub. They later marry and she becomes the mother of his fourth and fifth children.

2009: Granted NZ residency under investor visa scheme; buys $10 million in government bonds as part of the process.

Nov 29, 2010: Granted permanent residency in New Zealand. Rents a $30 million mansion in Coatesville north of Auckland from Australian-based Richard Bradley, the owner of Chrisco Christmas hampers.

Early 2011: FBI asks New Zealand to assist with investigation of Megaupload.

Dec 2011: Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) puts Dotcom under surveillance at request of NZ Police.

Jan 20, 2012: Dotcom and co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato (all in New Zealand for Mr Dotcom's birthday) arrested in a raid on Dotcom mansion after the US Department of Justice files copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering charges. All maintain they are innocent. The FBI says they generated $US175 million in criminal proceeds from Megaupload. Dotcom’s assets frozen in the US, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Feb 22, 2012: Dotcom freed on bail; initially with tight restrictions but ultimately with freedom to travel around New Zealandand pursue a number of new business, music and political ventures

April 28, 2012: Reveals he donated $50,000 to John Banks' mayoral campaign in 2010.

ABOVE: After the "Swim at Kims", the formerly reclusive Dotcom was suddenly everywhere, doing media interviews, making nice with the neigbours he used to annoy and becoming the most "in" defendant-around-town since Ahmed Zaoui. With the search warrants being declared illegal around the same time and GCSB bumbling putting John Key on the back foot, mid to late 2012 was the high point for the giant German

June 25, 2012: Swim at Kim’s”: Dotcom, who has previous shunned the public life during his time in New Zealand, invites people who follow him on social media to his mansion. A concerted PR effort begins

June 2, 2012: Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann rules the search warrants used by police to seize property from Kim Dotcom's $30 million rented Coatesville mansion were illegal, and that the FBI's removal of "clones," or copies, of computer data offshore was unlawful. At the time it seems a major victory for Mr Dotcom but the Crown appeals all the way to the Supreme Court (see Dec 22, 2014 entry)

Sept 13, 2012: GCSB says it became aware the spying was illegal

Sept 17, 2012: Prime Minister and GCSB Minister John Key launches an inquiry, headed by inspector-general of intelligence Paul Neazor

Sept 24, 2012: Crown files memorandum confirming GCSB involvement. Mr Key goes public

Sept 27, 2012: Key apologises to Mr Dotcom after Mr Neazor says GCSB surveillance was illegal as Dotcom is New Zealand resident. Key asks cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge begins review of GCSB

Dec 22, 2012: The US Dept of Justice releases an expanded summary of evidence against Dotcom and his co-accused, including transcripts of intercepted Skype communications. Focuses include cash payments to Megapupload members who upload popular files, and conservations that suggest the Megaupload crew – contrary to their public pronouncements – worked to make some content easily discoverable

Sept 24, 2012 Prime Minister and GCSB Minister John Key acknowledges GCSB illegally spied on Dotcom in the lead-up to the raid on his rented mansion

Nov 1, 2012: NBR snorts but Mr Dotcom gets a good run of press after saying he plans to back a second international fibre optic cable

Jan 20, 2013: Mr Dotcom announces a new file sharing venture, Mega, and a new music sharing service, Baboom

March 7, 2013: Court of Appeal rules Mr Dotcom can sue the GCSB and NZ Police upholding a High Court decision

Aug 29, 2013: Mr Dotcom resigns from Mega's board. He says it's to concentrate on his defence. He no longer has any official ties to the company he founded, although his wife Mona Dotcom owns shares through a trust. Hong Kong-based Bonnie Lam replaces him on Mega's board. A revolving door of Hong Kong investors and board members follows, with some pouring millions into the company

ABOVE: Lots of journalists and bloggers checked out Kim Dotcom's Good Times launch at his rented mansion but musicians and music industry folk were thin on the ground. Mr Dotcom spent a lot of his times indoors, hob-knobbing with Scoop's Alistair Thompson, who would shortly (and briefly) join the Internet Party

Dec 13, 2013: Release party for Good Times, an album that cost around $1 million to make and promote

March 27, 2014: Founds Internet Party, which he bankrolls with $5 million of his own money, from a family trust. Merges with Mana, which holds one seat in Parliament, to become Internet-Mana

April 8, 2014: Six major Hollywood studios file a civil suit against Dotcom, focusing on Megaupload's cash reward system for members who shared the most popular downloads which it says "was almost always stolen movies, TV shows and other commercial entertainment content ... Megaupload wasn't a cloud storage service at all; it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution.” Mr Dotcom counters that he gave studios and record labels direct access to Megaupload so they could remove offending content. He claims Megaupload was more proactive than other file sharing sites in addressing illegal content

March 24, 2014: Mr Dotcom goes to court to seek more access to evidence for a $6 million civil case he and his wife Mona are bringing against the GCSB and NZ Police

March 25, 2014: Mega seeks a backdoor listing on the NZX through TRS Investments, a shell company whose majority owner, Paul Choiselat, faces multiple market manipulation charges brought by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. After a number of stabs (and Mr Dotcom's estrangement from the company he founded), it gives up its back-door listing plan in mid-2015

April 11, 2014: The Recording Industry Association of America also hits Mr Dotcom with a civil suit, tracing the same themes as the movie industry

May 17 2014: Dotcom says he and Mona have separated and that he will be filing for divorce

May 21, 2014: Entrepreneur and long-time family friend Tony Lentino – who paid the bills after Mr Dotcom was jailed in 2012 – quits as Mega CEO. "I got involved two and half years ago because of principles and that is also why I left," he tells NBR. Mr Lentino becomes close with Whaleoil's Cam Slater and the pair discuss launching a news site which many expect to spill some beans on Mr Dotcom. But despite advertisements and job interviews, nothing comes of the plans

Dec 1, 2014: The Crown loses a bid to get Mr Dotcom back behind bars. In a three-day hearing, it argues he breached his bail conditions by contacting former Megaupload staff also charged but free in Europe. Judge Nevin Dawson finds no evidence. However, Mr Dotcom is now required to report twice a week, rather than once, and is banned from travelling on private aircraft or sea-going vessels

Sept 15, 2015: Edward Snowden (by videolink) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (in New Zealand, staying at Dotcom mansion) offer support but Mr Dotcom's The Moment of Truth event at Auckland Town Hall falls flat

ABOVE: Whatever his genius in the world file sharing, Dotcom displayed a tin ear for politics. He humiliated Te Tai Tokerau candidate Hone Harawira by springing a legalise marijuana policy on him and embarrassed Internet Party leader Laila Harre with the third-form naughtiness of his "F**k John Key" video 

Sept 20, 2014: General election; Internet-Mana receives 1.34% of the vote and loses its only seat in Parliament

Nov 13, 2014: Simpson Grierson quits as Dotcom’s law firm as he cries poor, saying a defence effort costing $10 million has drained his family trust money and partially unfrozen funds. Paul Davison QC also quits Team Dotcom. Ron Mansfield, a some-time legal aid lawyer and good-cause campaigner comes onboard. Dotcom’s US attorney, Ira Rothken, remains. It is later revealed Dotcom owes Simpson Grierson $2 million.

Dec 22, 2014: The fight over the bungled paperwork for the Jan 20, 2012 reaches the Supreme Court, which rules there was a lack of precision in the wording of the warrants. But in a majority decision, the judges find that read as whole, the warrants were not unreasonably vague or general. Chief Justice Sian Elias issues a dissenting view

Feb 15, 2015: Megaupload programmer Andrus Nomm, described as one of the file sharing service's top six executives, pleads guilty to felony copyright infringement in the US after voluntarily traveling from the Netherlands (where he was arrested in January 2012). He is sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Dotcom's US attorney Ira Rothken speculates the low sentence could mean Nomm cut a deal. Dotcom says he understands Nomm just wants to put the episode behind him so he can return to his young family

July 31, 2015: Dotcom turns on Mega, calling its encrypted file sharing service insecure and saying he will setup an open source, free rival. Mega CEO Graham Gaylard (who would shortly quit), says Dotcom's claims are nonsense

Aug 4, 2015: Key evidence in Dotcom's employment dispute with former staff at his mansion is suppressed

Aug 18, 2015: Dotcom posts a recording of a phone conversation with Universal Music staff, which he says took place shortly before 2012 raid. The Universal music managers seem interested in a deal over the Megakey ad-subsitution software that Dotcom has in development. One makes tentative plans to meet with Dotcom in Hong Kong (where Mr Dotcom says he is due to travel) in a couple of months. The meeting is headed off by Dotcom's arrest

Sept 14, 2015: Mr Dotcom and co-accused – who have successfully delayed their extradition hearing on five separate occasions over the past three and a half years – lose their latest bid to push back the date

Sept 17, 2015: Harvard law professor and US presidential candidate backs Lawrence Lessig files an affidavit in support of Dotcom

Sept 21, 2015: Extradition hearing procedural hearing begins

Dec 23, 2015: District Court judge Nevin Dawson rules Dotcom and his co-accused should be extradited to the US. An appeal is immediately lodged.

October 25, 2016: Dotcom fronts a crowdsourcing campaign to raise $US7 million for a new file sharing service, Megaupload 2, and a micropayment service called Bitcache. The campaign, hosted in the Cayment Islands and distributing funds to companies in the Cook Islands controlled by un-named individuals, fails to hit its target, but does reach a $1.4 million minimum that allows its backers to access the cash that was raised. Dotcom refuses to answer NBR's questions about who gets the money, instead blocking the reporter who lodges the question and calling him "a hater".

February 20, 2017: A High Court judge upholds the District Court decision to extradite Dotcom and his co-accused. Dotcom's legal team is heartened as Justice Gilbert goes against the lower court by tossing aside the allegation of copyright breach, which is in any case non-extraditable. But Justice Gilbert does find there were instances of fraud around the copyright breach activity, and fraud is an extraditable offence.Dotcom's legal team immediately flags it will go to the Court of Appeal. 

January 20, 2017: Fifth anniversary of the mansion raid. Dotcom due to mark the occasion with the launch of Megaupload 2 and Bitcache, but ends up postponing until later in the year due to an unspecified "roadblock"

March 21: 2017: John Banks fails in a bid to recover $190,000 in costs related to his wrongful conviction.

March 28, 2017: The Employment Relations Authority orders Dotcom to pay $26,000 to three former employees after ruling they were unfairly dismissed from his household staff

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