Dotcom case continued, and to continue

In a Hong Kong court hearing, in which Kim Dotcom is trying to free up more of his money for substantial living expenses, it was indicated that the extradition proceedings are likely to last at least another two years.

Newstalk ZB: Dotcom case to stretch to next decade

At least two more years.

That’s the minimum time frame for the Kim Dotcom extradition case, a Hong Kong court has been told.

The statement came during a hearing which saw details released of Dotcom’s extravagant lifestyle, funded out of a Hong Kong trove of cash.

It means Dotcom is likely to be in New Zealand next decade and the process to extradite him to the United States will have dragged on for eight years.

The Hong Kong hearing saw Dotcom pitching for $1 million relocation costs to fund his move from Auckland to Queenstown.

The money was to pay two years rent in advance, at $40,000-a-month. That’s an increase on the current $27,000-a-month allowed to be withdrawn from a seized pool of $50m held in Hong Kong.

Dotcom was also after $150,000 to pay for moving expenses and to have living expenses increased from $70,000-a-month to $73,000-a-month.

There was a further bid for a $200,000 “emergency fund” – that was to pay for “medical expenses of the family, car maintenance, household repairs and two holidays of the family”.

I guess if he’s got a heap of money he wants to be able to use it, but that’s a lot for living expenses.

It was during submissions by Gerard McCoy, Dotcom’s lawyer in Hong Kong, that the length of the extradition process was raised as a reason for needing the funds.

“These proceedings could not be determined in the next two years,” he said.

What’s next?

Dotcom is now on to the third Minister of Justice since he was arrested – the person in government who faces making the decision on whether the extradition certificate should be granted.

The next step in the process for New Zealand is a hearing in the Court of Appeal in February. Whatever the outcome, either side is expected to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Once that is complete, and should the extradition finding be upheld, it is down to the Minister of Justice to issue an order for extradition.

Even that is expected to face a challenge, with the High Court likely to be asked to rule on whether it was appropriately made.

The ongoing proceedings are taking a long time, and most be costing all those involved a heap.

Andrew Little is the new Minister of Justice who may or may not get to deal with this in the term just started.

From NZ Herald in 2014:  Dotcom show wears thin for Kiwis

Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said at issue was whether the allegations against Mr Dotcom were “genuinely criminal conduct, or is it a civil matter” that ought to be left to the US and Kim Dotcom.

Hong Kong court allows access to Dotcom funds

Amongst his other legal battles Kim Dotcom has been fighting to get access to frozen funds, including in Hong Kong. The High Court there has allowed Dotcom to access some of his restrained funds.

Court allows internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom to access Hong Kong funds

The High Court has allowed internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom to access some of his restrained Hong Kong assets to pay part of his legal costs and for living expenses.

Deputy judge Wilson Chan Ka-shun found the German-born businessman had fully disclosed his financial situation to a New Zealand court earlier this year.

“I am satisfied that Dotcom is not able to meet his own [expenses],” the judge said.

As a New Zealand court had allowed Dotcom to access NZ$80,000 (HK$406,000) per month for his living expenses, Chan granted him the same amount from his Hong Kong assets.

But he only allowed Dotcom to use his assets to pay for part of his legal fees.

Hong Kong customs officers, at the request of the US government, seized the assets of Dotcom and his company, Megaupload, on January 20, 2012. The court granted a restraining order to freeze the assets totalling more than HK$300 million.

Dotcom’s  lawyer, Gerard McCoy SC, said he was facing 48 court orders around the world and he had used up all his money in New Zealand and therefore wanted to access his restrained funds in Hong Kong.

That will add up to a lot of legal expenses.

 Prosecutor Wayne Walsh SC yesterday told the court that Dotcom lived a “Roll’s Royce lifestyle” in New Zealand and claimed he needed NZ$27,000 for rent, NZ$41,000 for household expenses and thousands of dollars to cover his electricity bills.

He has certainly lived an extravagant lifestyle here. That is now under financial pressure. It was reported recently that Dotcom had been forced into downsizing his accommodation and staff numbers.

Dotcom moves on from mansion

Embattled internet mogul Kim Dotcom is quitting his landmark Coatesville mansion.

In the latest chapter of the property’s short but chequered history, the controversial Megaupload founder has shelved plans to buy the expansive 60ha rural block on Auckland’s northern fringes and is preparing to move into a waterfront penthouse apartment on fashionable Princes Wharf.

Under the terms of the lease, he has to move out as he can’t afford to buy the property. He is preparing to downsize to a four-bedroom apartment in central Auckland.





Brown’s Hong Kong trips

The Hong Kong trip this January was mentioned by Doug McKay in his Chief Executive statement :

During the course of EY’s review, I was asked about the Mayor’s trip to Hong Kong undertaken in January 2013. The Mayor was a guest of the Hong Kong Government and all costs for flights, accommodation and hotel meal expenses were funded by the Hong Kong Government. The Mayor did not claim any expenses. No staff or support services, such as a translator, accompanied the Mayor.

That does not rule out someone other than “staff or support services, such as a translator” accompanying Brown to Hong Kong.

Curious – that Hong Kong trip isn’t in the full Independent review. But another Hong Kong trip is.

As a result of (iii) of the scope of our review, further matters arose that required consideration:
2.3.1 International travel

In the course of our review, we examined international travel to identify whether Ms Chuang travelled with the mayor in her capacity as an EPAP member and/or as a personal guest of the mayor.

In examining international travel, we reviewed a trip by the mayor to China and Hong Kong in November 2011 as part of a NZTA initiative. The mayor’s flights and accommodation for the NZTA portion of the trip were funded by NZTA. The trip involved an extension to Guangzhou which was non NZTA related and paid by council. One Mayoral Office staff member accompanied the mayor. All costs related to this staff member’s travel were paid by council.

1. Ms Chuang did not accompany the mayor on this trip (or any other council trip internationally or domestically).

2. The mayor’s proposed NZTA itinerary was rearranged by Mayoral Office staff to reduce the planned official activities on the evening of the 11 November 2011.

3. On that night, the mayor advises us he had dinner in the hotel restaurant with the Mayoral Office staff member who accompanied him on the trip and a personal friend the mayor advises us he knows well. This person had been requested by the mayor to provide translation services on the Guangzhou extension (13 and 14 November 2011). No evidence of payment has been found for these translation services. The Mayoral Office staff member has advised us she has no recollection of the dinner or attending the dinner.

4. The dinner cost NZ$134.93 ($647.50 RMB) and was paid for by the Mayoral Office staff member using their personal credit card and claimed back from council via the council expense claim process.

5. The mayor has advised the dinner was council related business. However, council emails we reviewed refer to at times, to the dinner being “private” and/or “personal”. On 9 November 2011, an email between council staff was exchanged highlighting NZTA were not comfortable to pay for this personal friend of the mayor’s meal cost on the Friday night and could the accompanying council staff member “discreetly arrange to pay for her meal”.

6. Because the dinner cost included hospitality for a personal friend of the mayor, a question arises whether the full cost of the dinner should have been a council expense.

Claiming it was business but discussing it privately as personal – “a personal friend the mayor advises us he knows well”. Someone who provided translation services at no charge.