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Australian police planning to seize former MegaUpload assets

By | Published on Monday 9 November 2020


While the latest non-development development in the long-running MegaUpload saga was happening in New Zealand last week, developments were also occurring in Australia. And possibly development developments, rather than non-development developments.

According to The Australian, federal police in the country are preparing to seize assets allegedly held there by Mat­hias Ortmann, a former senior exec at the long-defunct file-transfer platform and one of the defendants in the ongoing extradition case in New Zealand, which was subject to a Supreme Court ruling last week.

Ever since the US authorities shut down MegaUpload on copyright grounds back in 2012, there have been various efforts to seize assets owned by the former company and its senior executives, on the basis those monies were generated by encouraging and facilitating rampant copyright infringement. Many of those efforts were successful, although founder Kim Dotcom, in particular, has managed to reclaim some of the seized monies to fund his legal battle against extradition.

For the music and movie industries, having those assets frozen is particularly important, because both the record companies and the film studios have filed civil lawsuits against MegaUpload and its former bosses. Those civil lawsuits have been on hold for years as the US authorities seek to extradite Dotcom, Ortmann et al to face criminal charges in an American courtroom. But, assuming that eventually happens, and the civil lawsuits then get heard, obviously the music and movie companies want to ensure that there is money available to pay any damages they might win.

According to Torrentfreak, it’s not entirely clear what assets the police in Australia are seeking to seize, nor why this is happening now, although paperwork filed by the US government back in 2015 listed various Australian bank accounts linked to MegaUpload and in Ortmann’s name.

Last week the Supreme Court in New Zealand confirmed that Dotcom, Ortmann and two other former MegaUpload execs could be extradited under the extradition treaty between the US and NZ, which was definitely a development.

However, it also said that the MegaUpload team should be allowed to go ahead with a judicial review of the original district court ruling on that extradition, thus providing an extra route of appeal and meaning no actual extradition is going to happen any time soon. Hence it being a non-development development.