Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom could be reunited with millions of dollars, cars, artwork and property, after the High Court denied the Crown’s application for an extension to the freezing orders on his fortune while he awaits his extradition hearing.
The Crown applied in the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday to extend the foreign restraining orders on Dotcom’s fortune in advance of the original two- year order lapsing on Friday.
The application was made on behalf of the United States, which aims to prosecute Dotcom for online piracy and conspiracy to commit piracy and money laundering.
Dotcom’s lawyer Robert Gapes said last night Justice Susan Thomas had released a judgment, turning down the Crown’s application.
Gapes said Dotcom thought the judgment was “fantastic”.
However, the judgment was not necessarily the final hurdle in determining whether Dotcom would be reunited with his fortune.
The judgment said the freezing orders would remain in place for the next 14 days, which gave the Crown the opportunity to appeal the decision, Gapes said.
He expected it to appeal but if it did not, Dotcom would be allowed access to millions of dollars, cars and property seized in 2012.
The possibility of an appeal had not dampened Dotcom’s spirits.
Shortly before 7pm Dotcom tweeted “Breaking News: High Court ruling just now. Mona and I are getting our New Zealand assets back, unless the Crown appeals :-))).”
Gapes opposed the application in court yesterday, saying the original order was made on the back of a criminal jurisdiction prosecution, but the extension application was based on "a future action for civil forfeiture".
Movie studios and recording labels have recently filed several civil law suits against Dotcom in the US.
The section of the Criminal Proceeds Act relied on allowed extensions only on duration, not on new grounds, Gapes said.
There was no jurisdiction and the application should be refused, he said.
Dotcom's wife, Mona Dotcom, was represented as her funds have also been restrained for the two years.
Her lawyer, Aaron Lloyd, said she had not been charged, and all her separately held property should be released.
The applicants had had two years to show why her property should be restrained, and they had not, he said.
Crown lawyer Jonathan Downs said Mona Dotcom had to prove that she had not benefited from criminal activity.
- Fairfax Media