In 2012, a combined effort by the United States and New Zealand governments brought Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload empire to its knees. Coordinated raids in multiple locations carried out by heavily armed officers ensured that a clear message was sent to copyright infringers.
But despite the overwhelming show of force, Dotcom refused to lie down and just a year later he launched a brand new file-hosting service. Known simply as ‘Mega’, the platform launched to great fanfare in 2013.
Mega quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the hosting market, with Dotcom promoting the platform at every turn. Nevertheless, controversy was never far away.
In September 2014, Mega was branded a “piracy haven” in a Digital Citizens Alliance report into the activities of “shadowy cyberlockers.”
As a direct consequence and under pressure from the U.S. government, in early 2015 PayPal stopped processing payments for Mega. There can be little doubt that hurt the site.
But behind the scenes other matters were becoming a distraction. In May 2015, Mega’s bid for a stock listing fell through and just two months later Dotcom’s earlier praise for the company turned sour.
“Mega has experienced a hostile takeover and is no longer in the control of people who care about Internet Freedom. The New Zealand Government and Hollywood have seized a significant share of the company,” Dotcom told TorrentFreak.
“The combined shares seized by the NZ government and Hollywood were significant enough to stop our listing on the New Zealand stock exchange.”
Dotcom had already resigned as a director of Mega in September 2013 but now he was publicly warning people against using the site.
Today Dotcom repeated those calls, warning users of Mega over what he sees as the precarious position of the company.
“Mega had to survive without a credit card payment processor for almost 2 years now. The air is getting thin. Backup your Mega files,” he told users via Twitter.
But while a lack of payment processing options certainly won’t be helping Mega, Dotcom sees more danger in the reported controller of Mega, Chinese national and New Zealand citizen Bill Liu.
Back in 2009, Liu made headlines when it was revealed that despite being wanted for fraud in China, he was granted citizenship in New Zealand. Now it’s been revealed by kiwi Prime Minister John Key that Liu is ranked number five on China’s “Top 100” extradition list.
“I haven’t seen the list, but there is a list,” Key said.
“They’ve also put out a list worldwide of the Top 100. Bill Liu is number five on it,” he said of the Chinese government.
New Zealand police have already seized millions of dollars of assets that are believed to belong to Liu, including some held in Mega, although Liu denies all wrong doing. Dotcom, however, remains unconvinced.
“The 5th most wanted criminal in China is in control of Mega and he wants to float the business in HK? Good luck,” he said this morning.
As these situations go, the short history of Mega is utterly unique. Never before has a platform in the file-sharing space had two entrepreneurs each worth millions of dollars being pursued for extradition by two of the world’s most powerful governments for entirely different reasons.
It’s currently very late evening in New Zealand so we’re not expecting an immediate response from Mega to our requests for comment. We’ll add them here as soon as they arrive.
Update: Statement from Mega chairman Stephen Hall
“Mega has significant funding and strong support from shareholders so its financial position is certainly not precarious. Dotcom’s comment is factually incorrect and the motive is unknown,” Hall informs TF.
“Mega continues to experience strong growth which illustrates the global appreciation of the quality of its services. Mr Liu has a shareholding interest but has no management or board position so he certainly doesn’t control Mega.”