He’s one of the most famous people in the online space and the founder of the site at the heart of the world’s largest ever copyright infringement lawsuit, yet a relatively minor indiscretion has the potential to derail Kim Dotcom in a matter of weeks.
It all stems back to September 10, 2009 when a police radar gun logged speed-loving Dotcom doing 149km/h (92mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone. According to the authorities police gave chase, eventually catching up with Dotcom’s 3.6-liter AMG Mercedes 1.7km (1 mile) later close to his Coatesville mansion.
Explaining his three times over-the-limit endeavor as a “stupid mistake”, Dotcom later pleaded guilty by letter four days later. During the hearing the court heard that the entrepreneur had been “testing” a new car.
“When spoken to by police the defendant stated he had seen an 80km/h sign. He further stated that he stepped on the gas for 3-4 seconds and then braked and reduced his speed to the speed limit. He also stated he wanted to test the acceleration of the vehicle,” the records state.
Despite Dotcom expressing regret for his actions, the judge fined him $500 plus $130 costs and banned him from driving for six months. Now, almost five years later, the case is coming back to haunt Dotcom after he failed to declare the motoring conviction on his New Zealand residency application eight months after the offense.
In the (blurred) image below released under the Official Information Act, item three shows a ‘No’ response to the question “Have you or any of your family members included in your application, ever been: Convicted of an offense including traffic offenses committed within the last five years, involving dangerous driving [or] driving having consumed excessive alcohol.
The same immigration records reveal that Dotcom disclosed both his 1994 hacking conviction and a 2001 suspended sentence for insider trading, but both were disregarded having been dealt with under Germany’s “clean slate” legislation.
Nevertheless, it now appears that Dotcom’s position as a New Zealand resident is under threat due to his dangerous driving conviction and subsequent non-disclosure. According to NZHerald, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse could decide within the month whether Dotcom will be allowed to remain in New Zealand or be kicked out of the country.
Dotcom insists that the omission was the result of a misunderstanding with his advisors but the discovery was considered serious enough to prompt a high-level deportation inquiry.
“In the interests of fairness and natural justice, Mr Dotcom and his advisers have been asked to make submissions on the matter by 4 May,” Immigration NZ said in a statement.
“Once that process is complete a decision will then be made by the Minister of Immigration on whether Mr Dotcom is liable for deportation.”
The potential for deportation (albeit to either Finland or Germany, not the United States) only adds to Dotcom’s woes.
Last month the United States seized dozens of millions of dollars worth of the Megaupload founder’s assets and in June he’ll face an extradition hearing having had a request for postponement denied.
Whether Dotcom will be able to deflect ejection from New Zealand on either or both counts remains to be seen, but the tycoon certainly sees himself being backed into a corner.
“Dear Mr. Dotcom,” he wrote this morning on Twitter.
“Here are your options: Extradition or Deportation. Regards, The New Zealand Government.”