Kim Dotcom granted bail

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 10:46 22/02/2012
Lyle McMahon

Kim Dotcom talks to media outside North Shore District Court after being released on electronic bail.

Kim Dotcom
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
BAILED: Kim Dotcom at his bail hearing in the North Shore District Court.

Bram van der Kolk bailed

Dotcom's lawyer reacts to bail decision

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LATEST: Kim Dotcom has spoken of his relief to be out of jail.

It took an hour for bail papers to be sorted for the German millionaire and alleged internet pirate after he was released on electronic bail at the North Shore District Court today.

"I'm relieved to go home and see my family, my three little kids and my pregnant wife."

Dotcom said he hoped the media understood that is all he wanted to say right now.

"I just want to go home."

When asked how he felt about the treatment he had received from police, Dotcom said: "Well it felt a little bit like an audition to American Idol."

He was whisked away by his security staff to an awaiting Toyota.

Earlier today, Judge Nevin Dawson ruled it was highly unlikely Dotcom had access to money that could help him flee New Zealand.

Dotcom was released on electronic bail, meaning his movements will be monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.

Judge Dawson told the court that officials had investigated Dotcom's potential access to funds and "none of significance" had been found.

Four new bank accounts in the Philippines had been found but they were empty, he said.

Judge Dawson said it was "highly unlikely" that he had other financial resources that had not already been seized.

The chief financial officer of Megaupload submitted evidence from Hong Kong saying that Dotcom was "highly disorganised" when it came to financial matters, which accounted dozens of expired credit cards found when police raided his Coatesville mansion.

Prosecutors acting for the United States government had said that because Dotcom was "very wealthy" it was probable he had more bank accounts.

However, Judge Dawson said this put Dotcom in the position of having to "prove a negative" and that assertion was not enough to imply his flight risk.

Dotcom, 38, founded file-sharing site Megaupload and stands accused of breaching copyright laws costing owners more than US$500 million in what US authorities call the "Mega Conspiracy".

The German million was arrested last month during a raid at the $30m Coatesville mansion he rented, and was previously denied bail while awaiting an extradition hearing because he was considered a flight risk.

Dotcom denies any wrongdoing and says he has no intention of leaving New Zealand.  

The other three accused - Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato - had previously been bailed.

The court also heard today that Finland and Germany, where Dotcom has citizenship, had treaties with the US which would allow him to be prosecuted there if he did skip the country.

However, Judge Dawson said the most significant change since Dotcom was arrested was the passing of time. The first bail hearing took place soon after a dramatic arrest at his Coatesville mansion north of Auckland and a large amount of uncertainty surrounded Dotcom's capacity to flee.

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Since then it had emerged that he did not have the resources to get out of the country.

"The suspicion that Mr Dotcom is very wealthy is not evidence of further assets and cannot be used against him."

Judge Dawson granted bail to a Coatesville house he owns, where his wife and children live, with the conditions that he not access the internet, no helicopter be allowed to travel to the property, that he not travel more than 80km from the property and that he give police 24 hours notice of any appointment that required him to leave the propery, except for medical emergencies.

Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC said the condition that his client had no access to internet was unrealistic.

It was an international case where Dotcom needed to be in contact with lawyers in the United States to prepare his case.

"It's like saying he shouldn't have access to a telephone, it's such a fundamental means of communication."

However, prosecutor Anne Toohey said there was a very high risk of reoffending.

Megaupload was an enormously popular website and she feared that if it could be set up in a different jurisdiction outside the powers of the United States, then that country would have no ability to shut it down.

The Crown is considering an appeal against the decision to grant Dotcom bail.

The extradition hearing for the four will not be held until August because of the judge's availability.

The hearing is expected to last three weeks.

Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC said his client was relieved to be getting out of prison to spend time with his family.

Dotcom had "survived" prison, Davison said.

"It hasn't been comfortable but he has managed to cope with it."

Davison said the United States' case against Dotcom had no validity to it.

"[It] doesn't have any substantial basis to it at all."

He could not say whether the case would be concluded this year.

- Auckland Now

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