Kim Dotcom's frozen assets should continue to be held pending US court cases, regardless of whether they are claimed in criminal or civil proceedings, police say.
Millions of dollars of the internet entrepreneur's funds and assets have been frozen for more than two years under restraining orders accepted for registration in New Zealand, and the police have asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court judge's decision to release them.
David Boldt, lawyer for the police, told the court today that in New Zealand all that mattered was that the property was restrained with a view to it being forfeited.
The courts should not take account of the way the forfeiture application was being pursued in the US.
New Zealand was obliged under international conventions to give the widest help available, he said.
Yesterday US authorities filed civil proceedings in Virginia to replace the asset-restraining orders they had been seeking as part of the internet piracy criminal case they want him to face in America.
No decision has been made on whether he will be extradited to face the charges.
The change from criminal to civil proceedings had already been signalled and in April a High Court judge had refused to extend the restraining orders for a further year in New Zealand because of the changed basis.
The orders remain in the meantime pending a Court of Appeal hearing which took place today.
The three judges have reserved their decision on the police appeal.
Kim Dotcom's lawyer Robert Gapes said the High Court judge was correct not to extend the order.
He said the orders covered millions of dollars, “masses” of property, and jewellery.
If the restraining orders had been sought for the civil case at the outset, Dotcom could have argued against them in court, Gapes said. Dotcom was no shrinking violet when it came to litigation.
He said the process should begin again with an application to register the restraining order being sought using US civil law
Mona Dotcom is not a party to the proceedings but she was represented in court as an “interested party”.
Her lawyer, Aaron Lloyd, said she had not much more idea now of what was alleged than she did two and a half years ago when, seven months pregnant, she was pulled out of her house as men in black fatigues raided her home.
As well the property she shared with Dotcom being restrained, her separate property, a car, jewellery, artwork, and other belongings were also frozen.
Lloyd said the court was being asked to extend the restraining orders without knowing what was going to happen in the civil forfeiture process or that there were reasonable grounds for making the restraining orders.
- © Fairfax NZ News