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MegaUpload chief bailed

By | Published on Wednesday 22 February 2012

Kim Schmitz

MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz has finally been granted bail in New Zealand after a third attempt to get out of jail.

As previously reported, Schmitz, one of four men arrested in New Zealand last month at the request of US authorities in relation to their involvement in the Mega empire, had previously been refused bail twice because of concerns he would flee the country for home nation Germany, where it would be much harder for America to extradite him.

But yesterday a New Zealand judge accepted the arguments put forward by Schmitz’s lawyer that, with all his client’s bank accounts frozen, the accused wouldn’t have the means to leave the country. Prosecutors had previously expressed concerns Schmitz still had access to other secret sources of cash, but Judge Nevin Dawson yesterday said there was no evidence that was the case.

He also noted that, while it might hard for the US to extradite Schmitz should he manage to get to Germany, he could still be prosecuted through the German courts, meaning a return to his home country wouldn’t necessarily ensure he was out of the reach of the law.

Dawson ruled: “Since [the original bail hearing], all known assets have been seized and are unavailable for Mr Dotcom’s use or disposal. [Meanwhile] no new assets or accounts of any significance have been revealed since his arrest. Mr Dotcom’s submission that he has not concealed any assets or bank accounts has largely been borne out”.

The terms of Schmitz’s bail have not been revealed, though other bailed former Mega execs have been banned from using the internet. Speaking outside the court, the Mega chief told reporters: “I am relieved to go home to see my family, my three little kids and my pregnant wife. And I hope you understand that that is all I want to say right now”.

As previously reported, the three other Mega executives arrested at the same time as Schmitz have already been bailed. All four, and three other men, one arrested in Europe and two still at large, are accused of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering in relation to the now defunct MegaUpload service, and other related websites.