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Kim Dotcom May Recover Property Due To Police ‘Error’

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A police ‘procedural error’ may allow Kim Dotcom to recover the £100m of property, including a pink Cadillac, seized in January

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom may yet recover the millions of pounds’ worth of possessions seized in a January raid on his New Zealand mansion due to a police “procedural error”.

A judgement from Justice Judity Potter handed down on Friday declared the restraining order obtained by police authorising the 20 January raid was “null and void” and had “no legal effect”.

Extradition

Dotcom is facing extradition to the US on charges of copyright infringement and money laundering related to his now-defunct file-sharing website Megaupload. Among the NZ$200 million (£104 million) worth of possessions seized in January were numerous cars including a pink Cadillac and several Mercedes.

Attorneys acting for Dotcom are arguing his property should be restored to him, but prosecutors say that a subsequent seizure order, dated 1 February, is sufficient for holding his property.

Dotcom is currently on bail and is subject to electronic monitoring and limitations on travel, as well as a ban on connecting to the Internet. His trial is expected to begin in August.

New Zealand police admitted making a “procedural error” by applying for a restraining order that did not allow Dotcom to mount a defence. Justice Potter said police had applied for the “incorrect order”.

Retrospective order

Police attempted to amend the error after the raid by applying for the correct order, dated 1 February, and retrospectively listing the assets already seized, but this new order has only been granted on a temporary basis, Justice Potter said. The next step will be for Justice Potter to rule on whether or not the newer order is sufficient for authorities to retain Dotcom’s belongings.

Prosecutors allege that Dotcom and his colleagues ran a “Mega Conspiracy”, profiting from piracy facilitated through their site to the tune of $175 million (£111m). Additionally, an early indictment claimed Megaupload’s copyright infringement caused damages of $500m (£320m). The specific charges against the company’s staff include racketeering, fraud, money laundering and copyright infringement, amongst others.

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