Kim Dotcom’s extravagant town hall ‘Moment of Truth’ during the 2014 election campaign fell flat in part because an email that Dotcom planned to produce to prove John Key’s collusion with Hollywood fell through when it was claimed to be a forgery.
The Serious Fraud Office has now put out a statement saying that they are satisfied that the email was a forgery.
The Herald can today report for the first time that the SFO investigated the email, which emerged on the eve of the 2014 election claiming then-Prime Minister John Key was involved in a conspiracy to get Dotcom.
It is also a definite statement rejecting any possibility the email is genuine.
In a statement, the SFO said: “The SFO confirms that it carried out an investigation into this matter. As a result of that investigation, the SFO is satisfied that the email was a forgery.”
Dotcom said today that he still believed the email to be genuine and was surprised the SFO was able to be so definite.
“I believe the email to be real,” he said.
But he backed off revealing it at his ‘Moment of Truth’.
The purported email was from Warner Bros chief executive Kevin Tsujihara to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Asia-Pacific president Michael Ellis.
It was dated the day Key met Tsujihara and was in the midst of Immigration NZ’s consideration of Dotcom’s residency.
A Warner Bros senior vice president told the Herald at the time: “Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key. The alleged email is a fabrication.”
A spokeswoman for the MPAA said: “Mike Ellis never received this alleged email or discussed this matter with Kevin Tsujihara.”
Dotcom said today that the email was “easy to discredit” because it did not have “headers” – detailed information which shows the internet protocol address from which it was sent or the relays and servers it passed through.
As a result, he “could not use it at the Moment of Truth” – the event he organised at the Auckland Town Hall the week before the 2014 election. There, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Julian Assange of Wikileaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald made claims of mass surveillance of New Zealanders.
“It was a huge disappointment and distracted from the bigger picture: The Government and its participation in mass surveillance,” Dotcom said.
That was all timed to try and swing the election against the National government. Dotcom was financing and promoting his own Internet Party, which not only failed itself it also dragged down the Mana Party.
The email is back in the spotlight thanks to a new taxpayer-funded documentary into the Dotcom case. Kim Dotcom: Caught In The Web, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in the United States this week, includes the German-born entrepreneur talking about the origins of the email.
In the documentary, he says: “That email, I know it comes from hacker circles. You know about the famous Sony Hack. The same people who were responsible for that hack, were responsible for this hack.”
But it was text only, without the details necessary to prove authenticity.
Investigators familiar with SFO methods told the Herald the definite statement the email was a forgery revealed an deep and forensic-style investigation.
One investigator with SFO experience said the agency would have sought statements or interviews from the named executives and access to the servers. It would have studied the format and style of the email to see if it was consistent with where it was supposed to have come from.
Checking servers of the purported recipient and sender would be essential too. “If you did both parties and neither had it, that would be a strong basis to support the argument it was a forgery.”
He said the inquiry would also have involved each person believed or known to have contact being considered.
The SFO have gone further than saying that the email can’t be authenticated, they have stated that they think it was a forgery.
It’s hard to believe that Dotcom would fabricate a bogus email as he would known it would be denied.
Was Dotcom set up? If so, by whom, and why? Was it done to try to help Dotcom, or to try to trash his credibility?