He’s a big man, he’s in big trouble and he’s facing big fees from the lawyers in the small country where Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has been sequestered while fighting the US authorities wanting to extradict him to the US on copyright, money laundering and racketeering charges. Problem for the US is things aren’t going too well.
Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand lawyers are looking for $2.5 million to be released to take care of fees to date.Dotcom, represented by Simpson Grierson lawyers Willie Akel and Greg Towers and by leading QC Paul Davison, have apparently gone unpaid to date although they have been fully engaged in a range of high profile, high pressure and evidently – if only the funds are released – highly paid appearances.
The latest win for the team was yesterday when the Auckland High Court ordered that the FBI prove it has evidence to extradict the dotcom tycoon. Justice Winkelman’s decision effectively upholds a lower court decision that the FBI, who originally sought Dotcom’s extradition to the US, needed to produce evidence it held against him.
It is a further victory for the Dotcom lawyers and yet another reversal for the US attempts to move the man to the US for trial.
The costs applicatin seeks existing costs, close to $2.5 million, to be paid and also the release of a further $2.5 mill8ion for future legal costs as the Dotcom caseload continues with US attempts to extradict the Finnish-German, New Zealand resident businessman to the US on alleged copyright theft, racketeering and money laundering charges.
The US efforts, which started with the January helicoper and land-based police raid on the Megaupload boss’s Auckland mansion, under New Zealand police and FBI direction, have resulted in an initial imprisonment for Dotcom but since then the US efforts have all been down hill.The latest application for costs saw lawyer Willie Akel, a media and litigation expert, argue that the fees charged by his firm and Paul Davison QC were fully justifiable given the extraordinary circumstances of the case.
Mr Akel had earlier told LawFuel that the initial raid and closure of the massively profitably Megaupload business had been a “Blitzkrieg” that had seen himself and other lawyers working full time for at least three months on the case.He told Justice Judith Potter that the Dotcom lawyers included both a senior and junior barrister who worked with Mr Davison, together with his own firm’s fees.
The “non-stop” work since the Dotcom raid had included a bail hearing, judicial review of the search warrants, disclosure in the extradition proceedings and the recent challenge to the police activities.
Justice Potter wanted to ensure there was no “waste” in the bill estimate, to which Mr Akel indicated that the urgency, the seriousness of the charges and the “new areas of law” being explored meant there was no wastage of time, nor over-lawyering involved.Dotcom’s three co-accused were sharing one lawyer and the suggestion was made that Dotcom’s own legal services could be overseen by an independent Queen’s Counsel.