How does $7 Million Sound?
It’s taken nine years of battling, but the cost to the New Zealand taxpayer of the claims against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload have consumed 40,500 hours of work by Crown lawyers and $3.4 million in ‘ancillary costs” according to documents requested by the NZ Herald under the Official Information Act.
Add to that figure the extra costs including external legal work, airfares, and general administration, account for an additional NZ$3.6 million and we come up with a grand total of circa $7 million for – so far – an unsuccessful result.
The case began, as if you couldn’t remember and as LawFuel has reported on several occasions, on 19 January 2012 when the United States Department of Justice seized and shutdown Megaupload, the cloud-storage site founded by Kim Dotcom.
On the same day, Dotcom and several of his associates were arrested in New Zealand in a military-style raid on the so-called ‘Dotcom Mansion’ on the request of the US authorities.
Ever since, the United States justice system has fought tooth and nail to have Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk extradited.
Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object
The unsuccessful efforts by the Crown to have Dotcom extradited to face charges in the United States have continued to be fought at every turn by the lawyers acting for Dotcom and his co-defendants.
The New Zealand courts have been kept busy for more than nine years, expending resources on several cases – many involving extradition matters – that are still not over. But while the outcome of this entire process remains uncertain, there can be no doubt over the scale of financial resources poured into the prosecution of Kim Dotcom.
Worryingly, that’s not the entire financial picture either. The data shows that on top of the 40,500 hours of government lawyer time, extra costs including external legal work, airfares, and general administration, account for an additional NZ$3.6 million (US$2.6 million) in expenditure.
Allocation of Legal Resources
Government spending on the Megaupload matter reportedly began before Dotcom was even arrested. In preparing the case against him, Crown Law had already spent 432 hours working on the case. Then in 2012, 2013, and 2014, more than 7,000 hours were expended each year dealing with the fallout.
Among the issues faced by the Crown, apart from the massive legal expense and time, has been the issues related to illegal spying and related matters which, as website TorrentFreak observed, ‘should be pause for thought’ given they were fighting the determination and resources of one man.
Last year, the Supreme Court rules that Dotcom can be extradited to the United States to face 12 criminal copyright-related charges, but they granted him and his co-accused the right to challenge the decision through a judicial review.
The Supreme Court ruled the High Court and Court of Appeal were wrong not to consider their application for a judicial review of the original district court decision in 2015 that first ruled in favour of extradition.
If the judicial review fails,the “final” decision on the extradition of Dotcom and his co-accused will then be made by Justice Minister Kris Faafoi.
But Victoria University law professor Geoff McLay said even that might not be the end of the process because if Faafoi approves extradition then his decision can also be judicially reviewed.
And there we go again.
“Kim Dotcom has occasionally hinted at the scale of his legal bills since 2012, suggesting that they run into the tens of millions of dollars. How he has been managing to pay those bills after the authorities reportedly seized most of his assets isn’t completely clear but as recently as 2015, he was apparently “broke and destitute” and begging the courts for seized assets to be released,” TorrentFreak wrote.
According to NZ Herald’s analysis, matching the New Zealand government’s expenditure would’ve cost Dotcom around NZ$25 million (US$18 million).
On To Bitcoin
Kim Dotcom does not appear to be either running short of money or ideas.
“Many people are asking me why I’m supporting Bitcoin Cash and why I think it has the biggest upside potential,” Dotcom tweeted. “Good question. I made this little website for you.”
The website is called whybitcoincash.com and it explains the many benefits bitcoin cash (BCH) has to offer in contrast to bitcoin (BTC). The website explains that BCH is just like BTC, but with a number of adjustments making it the “digital equivalent of cash.”