Dotcom's expenses through the roof

MARIKA HILL AND KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2012
kim dotcom and wife
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
STILL ON BAIL: Kim Dotcom leaves the Auckland High Court with his wife and legal team.
Mona Schmitz,wife of Kim Dotcom
SNPA
GLAMOROUS WIFE: Mona Schmitz, the wife of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom outside the High Court.

Kim Dotcom bailed

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The luxury needs of the Dotcom family - including nannies, bodyguards and a private tutor for their toddler - makes a pittance out of the demands of former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin.

The Crown calculated the requested living allowance for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his pregnant wife Mona Schmitz at $220,000 per month when the couple appeared in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.

But the defence said the couple actually wanted a much lower figure than that, but needed a one-off payment for rent on their home in a rented mansion north of Auckland which costs $1 million a year.

Dotcom was also allowed to stay on bail yesterday, staving off a bid by the Crown to put him behind pars pending an extradition hearing.

Justice Judith Potter granted Schmitz just over $30,000 to live off for the next three weeks, effectively buying lawyers more time to pour over the household bills for the couple, who rent a $30m mansion at Coatesville, north of Auckland.

There was a public outcry after Hotchin asked for a $7000 weekly allowance to pay rent, living costs, and private school fees for three children on the Gold Coast, after his assets were frozen in 2010. The allowance later dropped to $1000, but he has since been allowed to apply for an extension.

The Crown said the Dotcom family was asking for $220,000 per month - or more than $55,000 weekly - to cover living costs to be released.

This sum included $24,000 for security, $29,000 for staff wages and $28,678 for general costs. Among the general costs was a monthly power bill of $8500 and $6000 per month in phonecalls.

Crown prosecution lawyer Anne Toohey opposed such a high allowance, considering the average New Zealand family survived on a little more than $6000 per month.

"This is an extraordinary sum of money, even for a large family," Toohey said of just the electricity bill.

On top of this, keeping the lawns trim and general maintenance of the Dotcom-rented mansion costs $600,000 annually.

Toohey said it was not clear what Schmitz's personal assistant actually did and questioned the need for so many staff considering both parents were currently unemployed.

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"There is no evidence ... as to why it is reasonable that Mr and Mrs Dotcom should have six domestic staff employed."

However, Dotcom's lawyer Willy Akel said much of the $220,000 would be swallowed up by rent of the mansion.

The lawyers will return to court on March 21 to debate the finer details of the living expenses.

Meanwhile, the Crown has failed to overturn Dotcom's bail and he remains at large pending the hearing in August over the United States bid to extradite him.

Justice Timothy Brewer made the decision in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.

Afterwards, Dotcom said he was looking forward to returning home.

"I'm looking forward to fighting these charges on a level playing field so I'm very relieved today."

In the earlier court hearing over living expenses, Justice Potter also released $74,000 to pay MegaStuff creditors, including an IRD bill.

Co-accused Bram van der Kolk was also granted $10,000 in the decision and given his 2005 Mercedes Benz.

The court was told Dotcom had no other source of income, other than the Megaupload pay-cheques.

The profits of the file-sharing website were deposited in Honk Kong bank then transferred to a New Zealand accounts under the business name of MegaStuff.

Dotcom used this business account to pay his bills and household staff.

His assets were frozen last month after he was arrested during a raid at his rented mansion.

The FBI wants him extradited to the US where he is accused of breaching copyright laws, costing owners more than US$500 million.

Toohey said she had received a preliminary application from the US indicating that Dotcom's wife could have been involved in Megaupload.

DOTCOM'S HOUSEHOLD BILLS

Monthly:
$24,000 security
$29,000 for staff wages
$28,678 for general costs including $1000 mobile phone, $5000 landline phone and $8,500 for electricity.
$7000 storage costs, including of  luxury cars

Annual:
$1 million rent
$600,000 maintenance of their home

One-off:
$250,000 rent debt
$40,000 legal bills - and counting.

- Auckland Now

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