Govt lawyers red-faced after FBI spirits Dotcom evidence to US

May 23, 2012

New Zealand Herald on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“By David Fisher

The Government’s lawyers have been ordered to explain how the FBI left the country with evidence in the Kim Dotcom case meant to be kept in “secure custody” by New Zealand police.

High Court Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann has told the Attorney-General’s lawyer, Mike Ruffin, he has until Monday to explain why FBI agents were allowed to take 135 cloned computer and data storage devices to the United States.

At a legal challenge at the High Court in Auckland yesterday, Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison, QC, called the revelation “high-handed” at best and “at the worst misleading”.

Mr Davison and lawyers for Dotcom’s three co-accused want a judicial review into search warrants used during FBI-inspired raids on January 20. Dotcom, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortman and Bram van der Kolk were arrested over allegations of criminal copyright violation through their file-sharing website Megaupload.

Mr Davison said he asked for assurances in correspondence with Mr Ruffin’s predecessor, Anne Toohey, that no evidence would leave New Zealand shores unless on the back of a court decision.

Crown Law had told him it had “not happened and will not happen without prior warning”. He said yesterday was the first time he was aware any material had left the country and there had been an agreement to maintain the “status quo” over the evidence. “There is no approval for the removal of these clones from New Zealand. There has been an excess of authority.”

Mr Davison said the correspondence included a statement from the head of the police organised crime squad, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, that the belongings were held in secure custody.

He said Dotcom’s rights had been “subverted or disregarded or worse”.

The revelation is the latest embarrassment for the Crown, which has already been exposed for fumbling parts of the case. It used the wrong law to get a court order to seize Dotcom’s assets – an error which contributed to the police having to offer an undertaking of liability. There had earlier been discontent over the size, scale and style of the police raid which Davison has said will form a complaint to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Yesterday, Mr Ruffin said he was aware the cloned copies had been sent out of New Zealand. However, he said he was unaware of Ms Toohey’s assurances to Mr Davison.

Mr Ruffin told the court a set of digital images copied from the computers had been taken to the US. “The actual items seized under the search warrant remain in New Zealand,” he said.

The Crown Law Office and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson refused to comment.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Kim Dotcom allegedly ridicules charges against him

March 28, 2012
Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom

RT on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“On Monday MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom said he is preparing an “entertaining” motion in response to the US government’s charges against him.

The German born, New Zealand millionaire who spent approximately five weeks behind bars for allegedly running the largest media piracy operation, said in an interview with Torrent Freak that not all of the charges against him are accurate.

Dotcom was accused of illegally uploading millions of songs. But according to the millionaire himself many of charges against him are absolutely inaccurate. For example, Dotcom cites an audio file of a song by the rapper 50 Cent he was accused of illegally downloading and distributing. In reality, the New Zealander claims the file was legally purchased.

The file’s link was emailed to several of his friends for the purpose of testing the website’s new email feature. Furthermore, Dotcom claimed the song had a total of zero downloads.

The indictment filed by the US government for his alleged involvement in an online conspiracy that authorities claim stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the entertainment industry, states the 50 Cent email he sent was part of the prosecution’s evidence.

According to Kim Schmitz, aka Dotcom, the file was legally purchased and posted back in 2006 and isn’t relevant due to the statute of limitation having been expired.

In addition to the 50 Cent file, Schmitz also contended that a Louis Armstrong song mentioned in the indictment was also legally bought.

“The indictment contained an email in which I suggested to provide Warner Brothers with a limited number of deletes per day,” Dotcom said in his interview.

“In fact, days later Warner Brothers got the maximum quota of 100,000 deletes per day,” Dotcom said in response to allegations of his refusal to cooperate with the media giant.

Dotcom believes the fact the he was willing to remove the material for his site verifies that he was more than willing to cooperate with copyright holders. Warner Brothers also was able to impede part of the problem by using MegaUpload’s built in tool that allowed for reporting of copy written material on the site.

According to Dotcom, the tool aided Warner Brothers in removing more than one million files from the notorious site.

Dotcom also added that not all users were transferring “pirated” material and claims the recent happenings have hurt those users who held accounts strictly from the purpose of transferring files over long distances without the need of a hard drive, memory stick or DVD. Among those members he added that 15,000 were US military servicemen that probably used their account to share photos with loved ones back home.

Since he set bail in early March, Dotcom has been under house arrests and has been critical on how the US government has handled the situation.

The seven year operator of the MegaUpload has slammed the entertainment industry and the politicians behind the legal proceeding claiming his site’s policies are no different than that of YouTube.

“If you read the indictment and if you hear what the prosecution has said in court, at least $500 million of damage were just music files and just within a two-week time period. So they are actually talking about $13 billion damage within a year just for music downloads. The entire US music industry is less than $20 billion,”explained Dotcom in an interview with New Zealand’s 3news earlier this month.

“In my opinion, the government of the United States protecting an outdated monopolistic business model that doesn’t work anymore in the age of the Internet and that’s what it all boils down to,”he added.

Dotcom promised the motion would soon come.

Amidst a pending extradition request by the US, Dotcom may have the case shift further in his favor, especially after a New Zealand judge ruled that law enforcement apprehended his possessions with a fake warrant. The authorities behind this have filed for another warrant, but if the judge denies the request Dotcom could have access to all his assets once again.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Megaupload: Kim Dotcom May Regain Possessions, Modern Warfare Crown

March 21, 2012

Forbes on March 19, 2012 released the following:

“In a potentially embarrassing turn of events for the case against Kim “Dotcom” Schmitz, former head of Megaupload and perhaps the third most famous Kim currently living, it seems that the seizure of his property may be overturned as a result of a misfiled restraint order by the New Zealand Police.

Schmitz, a German national, is currently fighting extradition from New Zealand to the US to be prosecuted on charges relating to copyright-infringing material being made available through Megaupload.com and its partner sites. Although Megaupload did not directly sell the allegedly infringing content, it profited from advertising revenues based on page views and subscription fees from premium members. According to the indictment, the damage to copyright holders from Megaupload’s activities totals more than $500,000,000 – although the statistical metrics behind this calculation remain uncertain.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom’s assets were impounded under an order which precluded the possibility of Him mounting a legal defense to re-acquire them. Described as a procedural error, this will nonetheless look to critics of the handling of the case like the misuse of extreme legal measures designed to battle terrorists and avert loss of life. This narrative has been ongoing since the deployment of armed STG officers – the New Zealand equivalent of SWAT – in the initial raid. Schmitz is a keen and fierce competitor in Activision’s Modern Warfare video game: one consequence of his incarceration before release on bail was the loss of his status as Modern Warfare 3′s highest-ranking multiplayer competitor. This will make for an interesting emotional damages claim in any countersuit.

New Zealand’s Crown Law Office – mindful, no doubt, that when they mess up it makes the Queen look bad – promptly applied for the correct restraining order, listing for seizure items that had already been seized under the previous order. Justice Judith Potter has already declared that the initial order was null and void, and will shortly address claims by Schmitz’ legal team that the property should be returned to their client’s control forthwith.

If the property is returned, along with a number of servers and tools of his trade Schmitz will be able once again to enjoy his Predator Statue, $17,500 Devon Tread 1 wristwatch and perhaps enjoy a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on one of the many enormous TV screens which were seized in the initial raid. Having secured a release on bail in spite of FBI opposition, Schmitz recently made statements to the file-sharing news site Torrentfreak expressing the hope that will soon to be able to reveal the identities of his site’s biggest users in the Department of Justice. If this tactic – of apparently trolling the case against – pays off, Schmitz may be able to say to his prosecutors, as he did to his victims on the virtual battlefield:

“Don’t hate me because I beat you. Respect me because I teach you :)”

However, the DoJ, whose lack of a sense of humour is generally comsidered a feature rather than a bug, may prove a tougher foe than 15 million Xbox antagonists. It’s not all bad news for American copyright abroad – nearer to home, the Crown signed off on the quickie extradition of Richard o’Dwyer for sharing links to copyright-infringing material on his TVShack website, using an extradition act signed hurriedly into law in 2003 as a vital tool in the war against terror. If the line between piracy and terrorism becomes blurred in the eyes of content providers and lawmakers, Dotcom may yet have cause to regret his vaunted gift with a virtual assault rifle.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US Govt ‘throwing everything’ at Dotcom

February 11, 2012

The New Zealand Herald on February 11, 2012 released the following:

“By Michael Dickison

The United States Government is throwing “everything in the book” at Kim Dotcom, say top forensic accountants. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is even expected to sign the final extradition request.

Charges against the founder of Megaupload, a file-sharing website, go beyond copyright infringements and include money laundering and racketeering.

PricewaterhouseCoopers director of forensic services Alex Tan said it followed a tendency by US prosecutors to take a “very wide interpretation of the law”.

“It’s a case that has demanded the world’s attention. If they’re going to do this, and spend all this money and go through governments, it’s not for a two-month jail sentence.

“They’re going to throw everything in the book and be very good at applying laws,” Mr Tan said.

An extradition request was part of a reciprocal treaty and not out of order – but it was nevertheless delicate and conducted at the highest levels, he said.

“It’s not done at the local level. It’s most likely that the Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton – personally signs it.

“Between the FBI and Hillary Clinton, it goes past a thousand eyes because they’re asking a sovereign country to put somebody on a plane.”

The final request would have to be robust, Mr Tan said.

“You’re not going to give Hillary Clinton a bunch of dud papers to sign, because it makes her look silly.”

Dotcom is in custody as he awaits a February 22 callover, having had requests for bail declined.

His heavily pregnant wife – who has been described as in a “frail” condition – is living at their house in Auckland with their three children.

Most of the family’s possessions have been seized by authorities.

The indictments for Dotcom and his co-defendants have been made available, but the official extradition request is yet to be lodged.

The deadline is March 5.

Mr Tan said the money-laundering and racketeering charges had been devised on the back of the alleged copyright infringements.

Money-laundering charges applied to any transactions of money made from serious crime – even where there was no attempt to conceal it, he said.

“A guy hits a grandmother over the head and steals her handbag for $30, then buys a pack of cigarettes with it – if you deal with it in any way at all it becomes money laundering,” he said, though he added that the original crime must be serious, usually carrying a jail term of at least five years.

As part of the charge, the indictment against Megaupload lists a series of payments to the firm hosting its servers.

Elsewhere in the document, the prosecutors allege that the website concealed its criminal activity because it withheld copyrighted files from its search results.

Mr Tan said the racketeering charge could be applied where a group of defendants faced two crimes out of a list of 35, which included copyright infringement and money laundering.

The charge had been “extremely successful” in elevating penalties and dealing to organised crime and the Mafia.

There was no direct equivalent to the charge in New Zealand, Mr Tan said, although various fraud charges could add up to something similar.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.