Kim Dotcom has yet another reason to celebrate this morning. The High Court in New Zealand has freed up $4.83 million from a government bond seized from the Internet entrepreneur when he was arrested back in January. The cash will go towards Dotcom’s New Zealand legal expenses to date and contribute to his future fighting fund. The Megaupload founder will also be able to sell some of the vehicles from his luxury car collection.
Back in January, U.S., New Zealand and Hong Kong authorities closed down Dotcom’s companies and seized pretty much everything he owned, leaving him to embark on what first appeared to be an impossible mission.
Fighting an international legal battle against two sets of governments is a huge undertaking, but for months Kim Dotcom has been doing just that with the help of a legal team headed up by Ira Rothken.
The team have run up huge bills defending the Megaupload founder and co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk, but due to Dotcom’s financial position for more than seven months no one has been paid.
But a welcome decision today means that Dotcom will soon be reunited with millions of dollars previously seized on behalf of the U.S. government, although there are restrictions attached.
In the High Court in Auckland this morning, Justice Judith Potter allowed Dotcom to borrow approximately $NZ 6 million ($4.83m US) against a $NZ 10 million government bond. The amount released will cover $NZ 2.6 million in existing legal bills, $NZ 1 million in future costs, and another $NZ 1 million rent on Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion.
However, while the money released will be music to the ears of Dotcom’s legal team in New Zealand, lawyers in the United States will have to continue their wait. According to Wired, Justice Potter refused to release the full amount requested by Dotcom, meaning that for now a $US 242,000 bill run up by Ira Rothken’s law firm will go unpaid.
Justice Potter also ruled that none of the released funds can go towards the legal expenses of Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato or Mathias Ortmann after the New Zealand Commissioner of Police said the individuals have funds of their own. The same restrictions do not apply to Dotcom’s wife, Mona.
In addition, Justice Potter ruled that Dotcom will be able to sell some of the cars seized in January including a 2008 Rolls Royce coupe and a 2009 Mercedes E500. Considering his increased profile the cars may well have appreciated in value during the last seven months, but any funds generated will be withheld pending a court review on how they may be spent.