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Prosecutors fail to have Mega chief’s bail revoked

By | Published on Wednesday 29 February 2012

Kim Schmitz

MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz is still free on bail today after prosecutors in New Zealand failed to convince the courts in Auckland that the digital man should be returned to jail.

As previously reported, Schmitz was arrested in New Zealand last month at the request of the US authorities, who accuse him and six of his MegaUpload colleagues of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. The other three Mega execs arrested at the same time as Schmitz were given bail, but initially the Mega empire’s top man was kept in prison over fears he might have access to secret stashes of cash which he could use to flee to his home country Germany, where it would be much harder for America to extradite him. But last week a New Zealand judge ruled there was no credible evidence of any such secret cash funds, so Schmitz was bailed on similar terms to his colleagues.

Prosecutors returned to court this week to try and have that ruling overturned, but failed. Earlier today the judge hearing the case said he remained convinced the risk of Schmitz fleeing wasn’t substantial, and that keeping him under strict bail terms outside prison was satisfactory while America goes through the motions of extradition, which could take until August to be completed.

Elsewhere in the Auckland courts, legal reps for Schmitz were requesting some of their client’s assets be unfrozen so that he can cover some of his routine expenses. According to TVNZ, those routine expenses reportedly include rent, security guards, a butler, a nanny, some existing debt repayments, and a telephone line so Schmitz can talk to his lawyers. That would come to a mere NZ$220,000 (approximately £116,000) a month.

Prosecutors have objected to Schmitz being given access to those kinds of sums, arguing that the Mega man’s fortune has been amassed via illegal businesses, and that the average New Zealand family lives on an income of NS$6000 (just over £3,000) a month, and therefore the Schmitz clan should adapt to live a more modest lifestyle while the defendant prepares for his court battle.

The court reportedly approved a one-off payment from Schmitz’s bank accounts of NZ$100,000 (just under £53,000), to cover some debt repayments that were due, and medical expenses incurred by the Mega chief’s heavily pregnant wife. But a decision on a monthly allowance was postponed, with the judge requesting that prosecution and defence reps try to reach an agreement on that matter outside of court.