Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Takes Stand in Extradition Hearing, Says He's Out of Money
Kim Dotcom took the stand in his extradition hearing on Thursday, telling a New Zealand court that he sold off his post-Megaupload companies in 2013 for roughly $13 million USD in order to pad his legal defense. The self-described “internet entrepreneur” is wanted by the FBI on charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering stemming from his shuttered Megaupload file-sharing business.
According to The New Zealand Herald, Dotcom’s lawyers argued that more time and money was needed in order to mount a proper defense against the U.S., which they say has adopted a “starve out” policy by freezing Dotcom’s remaining assets.
When Dotcom made his long-awaited debut on the stand in the proceedings, however, New Zealand prosecutors argued that he could have prevented his short-term money woes. Dotcom said he sold his shares in cloud service Mega and music company Baboom "out of necessity." When asked why he recently donated $4.8 million to the short-lived Internet Party political movement, instead of putting that money away for his defense, Dotcom conceded it was a mistake.
"If I had a crystal ball and I could see the future, in hindsight I could have done that," Dotcom said. "But at the time, for me, there was no reason to believe there wasn't more unrestrained funds coming from my business ventures."
Dotcom was also asked why he hasn’t tightened his belt and appropriated some of his living expenses for legal bills, he argued, ”If I wanted to be homeless and fire all my staff and take my kids out of school, I could have done that, yes."
Dotcom’s colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk also are facing extradition.
The extradition proceedings arrived after three years of legal wrangling, two supreme court cases and 10 delays in the proceedings. The case will not determine if the four are guilty, but only whether they should face the charges brought by the FBI in what it has called the "Mega conspiracy" in the U.S.
The hearing is scheduled to resume on Friday.