Kim Dotcom asset wrangle begins

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:24 04/04/2012
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Fairfax NZ
CHEQUERED PAST: Kim Dotcom
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A motorbike is taken away from the mansion seized from piracy-accused Kim Dotcom.

Kim Dotcom wins bail

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A legal wrangle over Kim Dotcom's assets is underway in the High Court, with the internet mogul's lawyer hoping to eventually get his money and cars returned.

The Crown has applied to place a foreign restraining order on the assets seized from the Megaupload founder during the January raid on his Auckland mansion, meaning his possessions could be held for up to two years.

However, Dotcom's defence lawyers say the wrong person has authorised the order and therefore it should not be granted.

The order, made under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act after a request from the US Government, was authorised by Deputy Solicitor-General Cameron Mander. The application itself was made to the High Court by Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.

Defence lawyer Willie Akel said the authorisation should have been granted by the Attorney-General, as written in the Act.

The Crown argued it was lawful for the Deputy Solicitor-General to give authorisation, as the Attorney General is able, in law, to delegate his responsibilities.

They say it is important for the Attorney General to delegate responsibilities such as this to limit accusations of political interference in criminal trials.

However Akel says it is important for the decision to grant the order to be considered at a high level, as he needs to satisfy himself that the request hasn't been made on political grounds, that it does not breach human rights or is not in New Zealand's national interest.

If the defence argument is successful, and if there is no appeal, Dotcom would be able to regain his assets.

Justice Judith Potter reserved her decision.

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