Kim Dotcom finally to be extradited to the US, New Zealand judge rules
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Nearly 4 years after raid, Dotcom loses bid to delay extradition hearing
Kim Dotcom appeals US seizure of his millions, jet skis, and more
Kim Dotcom gets to keep his millions, cars, and jet skis, for now
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The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in favor of the American government’s seizure of a large number of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s overseas assets.
In the US civil forfeiture case, which was brought 18 months after the initial criminal charges brought against Dotcom and Megaupload, prosecutors outlined why the New Zealand seizure of Dotcom’s assets on behalf of the American government was valid.
Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, multiple cars, four jet skis, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000.
After years of delay, in December 2015, Dotcom was finally ordered to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges.
But his appeal is set to be heard before the High Court in Auckland on August 29.
Dotcom could conceivably appeal to the New Zealand Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court of New Zealand (if it agrees to hear the case), a process that could take many more years.
Good that I’ll never get extradited to the land of corrupt politicians & rigged courts. New Zealand Appeal Judges will apply the law.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 11, 2016
Under American law, authorities can seize cash and items of value if they are believed to be ill-gotten, even without filing any criminal charges.
In its court filings, prosecutors argued that because Dotcom had not appeared to face the charges against him in the United States, he is therefore susceptible to “fugitive disentitlement.” That legal theory posits that if a defendant has fled the country to evade prosecution, he or she cannot make a claim to the assets that the government wants to seize under civil forfeiture.
But as the Dotcom legal team claimed, the US can neither use its legal system to seize assets abroad nor can Dotcom be considered a fugitive if he has never set foot in the United States.
“The [Department of Justice] in our view is trying to abuse the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine by modifying it into an offensive weapon of asset forfeiture to punish those who fight extradition under lawful treaties and a provocation for international discord,” Dotcom’s chief global counsel, Ira Rothken, wrote in July 2015.
However, the 4th Circuit disagreed:
Because the statute must apply to people with no reason to come to the United States other than to face charges, a “sole” or “principal” purpose test cannot stand.
The principal reason such a person remains outside the United States will typically be that they live elsewhere.
A criminal indictment gives such a person a reason to make the journey, and the statute is aimed at those who resist nevertheless.
On Friday afternoon, Rothken told Ars that he and his client have not yet decided whether they will appeal to a full panel of the 4th Circuit, known as an en banc appeal, or to the US Supreme Court.
“This opinion has the effect of eviscerating Kim Dotcom’s US-NZ treaty rights by saying if you lawfully oppose extradition we will still call you a fugitive and take all of your assets, so if you ever arrive in the US you will not have your own funds to use to mount a fair defense in the largest criminal copyright case in history,” Rothken wrote by text message.