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Court says Megaupload founder Dotcom can remain on bail

A New Zealand court ruled late Wednesday afternoon local time that the founder of the now-defunct file-sharing site Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, can remain on bail until his extradition hearing in August.

US authorities want to question the millionaire regarding a number of alleged Internet piracy-related offenses, including conspiring to commit money-laundering, copyright infringement and aiding and abetting copyright infringement. US prosecutors have described the case as a “mega conspiracy” that could have cost copyright holders as much as $500 million.

Speaking at a court in Auckland, Justice Tim Brewer said he agreed with a court decision last week to let Dotcom — real name Kim Schmitz — out on bail, saying that the electronic tag he has to wear should help to ensure he abides by the conditions set by the court.

These conditions include staying within 50 miles of his luxury home in Coatesville, near Auckland. He has also been ordered not to use the Internet.

The German national had millions of dollars in assets seized shortly after his arrest on January 19. It has also emerged that the 38-year-old is in the process of trying to gain access to some of his funds, to the tune of US$185,000 per month. Dotcom told the court he needs it to pay staff ($24,000) at his mansion, landline telephone bills ($4,000) and utility bills ($7,000), among other things.

On February 9 negotiations between the court and Dotcom’s legal team established that he would need $8,500 per month for living expenses, so quite why it has spiraled to $185,000 isn’t clear. A decision could be reached later on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom’s wife has also come to the attention of the US authorities, who believe she too may have been directly involved in the operation of Megaupload. Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey said she is awaiting further information from the US on the matter.

[Source: NZ Herald]