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How the OIO protected Kim Dotcom

Chris Keall
Thu, 26 Jan 2012

A neighbour of Kim Dotcom says the Overseas Investment Office protected the German multi-millionaire’s privacy at the expense of community interests.

France Komoroske, a retired US ex-pat lawyer living in Coatesville, north of Auckland, near the Chrisco mansion Mr Dotcom was attempting to purchase, forwarded NBR a series of correspondence with the OIO that began in April 2010.

The OIO did not acknowledge Mr Komoroske’s complaints about Mr Dotcom’s previous convictions, and his actions while renting the property – including "racing" his cars down the street – that had alarmed many in the affluent rural lifestyle community.

More, the OIO would not even acknowledge that Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz) was an applying to buy the property, citing privacy law, and stating the information was commercially sensitive.

In terms of section 10 of the Official Information Act 1982 I neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of the information requested as the disclosure of the existence or non-existence of the information would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the party(s) who may have supplied the information (section 9(2)(b)(ii)) and/or the withholding of the information is necessary to protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a)).

Ms Komoroske said the objections were a nonsense, writing back to the OIO:

I have been informed by Mr Schmitz's agent Paul Arundel in writing that Mr. Schmitz has in fact submitted an application to your office for approval to purchase the Chrisco mansion (in which he now resides and which he has re-named the "dotcom Mansion") and that if obtains approval, he will then apply for residency.  Therefore, Mr. Schmitz's privacy and/or commercial position is not likely to be unreasonably prejudiced by the disclosure of his pending application since his agent has already admitted that such an application is pending.

Ms Komoroske’s final letter from the OIO says only that potential buyers of the property are aware of their legal obligations.

“It all seemed very secret,” Ms Komoroske said yesterday.

“It just seemed strange that the privacy rights of a convicted foreign felon would outweigh those of New Zealand citizens.”

In July 2011, the OIO rejected Kim Dotcom's bid to buy the Chrisco Mansion.

The office also declined Mr Dotcom’s bids to buy a second, smaller property in Coatesville, and a 16 hectare parcel of land at Doubtless Bay in Northland.

Chrisco co-founders and Chrisco mansion owners Richard and Ruth Bradley have repeatedly declined to comment on the rent or lease arrangement that has allowed Kim Dotcom to live at their property.

However, the word in the Coatesville community is that Mr Dotcom is only paid up until next month.

Chris Keall
Thu, 26 Jan 2012
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How the OIO protected Kim Dotcom