In the wake of the now-famous 2012 raid, the U.S. government has done everything in its power to deny Kim Dotcom access to the assets of his former Megaupload empire. Millions were seized, setting the basis for a legal battle that has dragged on for more than three years.
In a July 2014 complaint submitted at a federal court in Virginia, the Department of Justice asked for forfeiture of the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.
“Kim Dotcom and Megaupload will vigorously oppose the US Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture action,” Dotcom lawyer Ira Rothken told TF at the time.
But in the final days of last month Dotcom received a blow when a ruling from the United States barred him from fighting the seizure. A Federal Court in Virginia found that Dotcom was not entitled to contest the forfeiture because he is viewed as a “fugitive” facing extradition.
“We think this is not offensive to just Kim Dotcom’s rights, but the rights of all Kiwis,” Rothken said.
Wasting no time, yesterday the United States went in for the kill. In a filing in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Department of Justice requested an entry of default against the assets of Kim Dotcom plus co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, and Sven Echternach.
The targets for forfeiture are six bank accounts held in Hong Kong in the names of Ortmann, der Kolk, Echternach, Bencko and Batato. New Zealand based assets include an ANZ National Bank account in the name of Megastuff Limited, an HSBC account held by der Kolk and a Cleaver Richards Limited Trust Account for Megastuff Limited held at the Bank of New Zealand. Two Mercedes-Benz vehicles (an A170 and an ML500) plus their license plates complete the claim.
The request for default judgment was entered soon after.
“In accordance with the Plaintiff’s request to enter default and the affidavit of Assistant United States Attorney Karen Ledbetter Taylor, counsel of record for the Plaintiff, the Clerk of this Court does hereby enter a default against the defendant,” Clerk of Court Fernando Galindo wrote.
Dotcom and his co-defendants will now have to wait to see if the U.S. court grants default judgment and forfeiture. However, even if that transpires it probably won’t be the end of the matter.
Since the assets are located overseas any U.S. order would have to be presented to the courts in those countries. In New Zealand, for example, the U.S. acknowledges that the forfeiture order might not be accepted and could become the subject of further litigation.
In any event the battle for Dotcom’s millions will continue, both in the United States and elsewhere. And with each passing day comes extra legal costs which diminishes the entrepreneur’s chances of mounting what is already an astronomically costly defense, a situation that plays right into the hands of the U.S.