Megaupload boss to remain on bail

2012-02-29 14:35
Wellington - Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom won a legal battle on Wednesday to remain free on bail in New Zealand while US authorities seek his extradition on online piracy charges, reports said.

Prosecutors went to court seeking to put the German national back behind bars after a judge released him last week, ruling he was unlikely to flee the country to escape US allegations he masterminded an online "mega-conspiracy".

But the High Court in Auckland dismissed prosecution fears that Dotcom had hidden funds he could use to go on the run, saying he would remain on bail under strict conditions, Radio New Zealand reported.

It was the millionaire's fourth bail hearing since New Zealand police, co-operating with US investigators, raided his sprawling Auckland mansion on January 20.

At the first two, prosecutors successfully argued he was a serious flight risk, with the wealth and connections to slip out of the country if he wished.

Maximum penalty

But he was given bail in a surprise move last Wednesday, when a court accepted that it was in his interests to fight the case and seek to retain his assets, rather than abandon his family for a life on the run.

The US Justice Department and FBI allege Megaupload and related sites netted more than $175m in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners over $500m by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

Megaupload was founded in 2005 but shut down in January when its assets were frozen as part of the US probe.

A US application for Dotcom's extradition is expected to be heard on August 20. US authorities have said they will seek the maximum penalty of 20 years in jail if he is brought before an American court.

Dotcom, who legally changed his name from Kim Schmitz, has denied any wrongdoing.
Read more on:    megaupload  |  cybercrime

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