Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, currently out on bail in New Zealand on Internet piracy charges, has asked the authorities to free up some of his assets to cover living costs.
However, his request for the equivalent of $185,000 per month has been deemed unreasonable by a court, with Crown lawyer Anne Toohey pointing out to the German national that the average New Zealand family lives on the equivalent of about $5000 per month.
But Dotcom can hardly be compared to the average New Zealand family. He told the court that his monthly outgoings include $25,000 for staff and about the same again for living costs. He also employs a nanny and a butler. The court has not yet decided how much Dotcom should be allowed to receive, though it’s unlikely to be anywhere near $185,000.
Dotcom, 38, was arrested in New Zealand in January on Internet piracy charges following the shutdown of his file-sharing website, Megaupload. It is claimed that the website may have cost copyright holders as much as $500 million.
To the alarm of the US authorities, who are seeking to extradite him for questioning, the millionaire was last week released on bail after a judge decided that he wasn’t a flight risk.
His bail conditions stipulate that he must not use the Internet or travel more than 50 miles from his property, located just north of Auckland.
The US government has appealed the decision to release him on bail, with Dotcom expecting to hear on Wednesday whether he can remain at his home near Auckland until his extradition hearing, expected in August, or if he must return to prison.
It has also emerged that the US authorities are investigating Dotcom’s wife too, in connection with the Megaupload site. Toohey said she was awaiting further information from the US on the matter.
The charges against Dotcom and three of his associates range from copyright infringement to money laundering. Authorities in the US said it’s the biggest Internet piracy case it’s ever had to deal with.
An Auckland court has ruled that Kim Dotcom can remain on bail until his extradition hearing in August. Dotcom is on electronic bail, meaning he must wear an electronic bracelet that monitors his location. The court’s decision came Wednesday afternoon local time.