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Kim Dotcom takes to the stand in MegaUpload extradition hearing

By | Published on Friday 9 October 2015

Kim Dotcom

MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom has taken to the stand in the ongoing extradition hearing taking place in New Zealand.

As much previously reported, the US authorities want to extradite Dotcom and his former colleagues at the long defunct file-transfer business to face allegations of money laundering, racketeering and rampant copyright infringement in relation to their former company.

While the prosecution in the extradition hearing, who kicked off the proceedings, ran through their various allegations and evidence against Dotcom et al, so far much of the defence’s time has been spent arguing that the extradition hearing itself should be postponed.

This has long been the defence’s standpoint, of course, and the hearing has been postponed many times before. The key argument from Team Mega – which was presented just before the extradition hearing began, on its first day, and again this week – is that the US authorities are refusing to allow the defendants to use funds seized by the feds when they shut down MegaUpload in 2012 to pay for American legal representation.

The prosecution argue that the case currently centres on New Zealand extradition law and not American copyright or criminal law, and that some of the seized funds have been provided to hire domestic legal representation. But that domestic legal representation insists it needs US legal expertise to ensure its clients have a fair trial.

Most of the questions answered by Dotcom in court yesterday focused on his financial situation and the lawyers he could and could not afford. He said that he’d sold his shares in the companies he set up post-MegaUpload – new file-transfer service Mega and direct-to-fan platform Baboom – and made about $20 million, and that this money had been used to fund legal costs and his family’s living expenses.

It was noted that, since the shutdown of MegaUpload, Dotcom had donated $4.8 million to the Internet Party in his failed attempt to wield political influence in his adopted home country. Could that not have been spent on US legal counsel, prosecutors asked. “If I had a crystal ball and I could see the future, in hindsight I could have done that”, Dotcom replied, according to the New Zealand Herald. “But at the time, for me, there was no reason to believe there wasn’t more unrestrained funds coming from my business ventures”.

Suggesting that Dotcom continued to lead a pretty expensive lifestyle, and perhaps some of those monies could have been set aside for legal costs too, the Mega man added: “If I wanted to be homeless and sack all my staff and kick my kids out of school I could’ve done that, yes”.

Earlier in the day Dotcom’s highest profile legal rep, US attorney Ira Rothken, said he would need about half a million to hire the people needed to assure his client a fair trial, and that if he got those funds it would take about six months to get together a solid defence.

The case continues.