Business, Economics and Jobs

Kim Dotcom gets $48,000 a month to live on while awaiting Megaupload charges


This video grab taken from pool video footage shows Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom appearing at the North Shore court in Auckland on Jan 25.



The founder of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, has been granted a living allowance of NZ $60,000 (around US $48,000) per month while he awaits extradition to the US on charges of copyright theft.

German-born Dotcom is currently on bail in New Zealand, where he is a legal resident.

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According to a ruling by the High Court in Auckland, Dotcom – real name Kim Schmitz – will be allowed to draw NZ $20,000 from interest on the $10 million of government bonds he owns, and $40,000 from his bank account, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The sum is less than Dotcom had requested, according to Australia's Herald Sun, which said that the millionaire had applied for NZ $171,240 a month, including funds to pay for "a butler and nannies."

He ended up with less than half that amount – but was granted the use of his 2011 Mercedes Benz, one of several luxury cars confiscated from his mansion following his arrest in January. Millions of dollars' worth of assets, bank accounts and property were seized at the same time.

Those seizures may in fact be invalid, according to a High Court ruling last week, in which a judge said that a "procedural error" in police paperwork could lead to Dotcom's assets being returned to him in full.

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Dotcom told New Zealand's 3 News earlier this month that the freeze left him struggling to cover his legal costs.

"I'm an easy target – I'm not Google and I don't have $50 billion on my account, and right now I don't have a penny on my account," he said. "All my lawyers are basically working without a penny and they doing it because what they see here is unreasonable, unfair, and not justice."

According to the Herald, Dotcom told the court he needed access to funds to cover the rental and maintenance costs of his mansion, to which he has returned since his release. His wife – who is due to give birth to twins next month – was also granted an allowance of more than NZ $32,000.

The US Justice Department and FBI allege that Megaupload and its sister sites made their owners more than $175 million by hosting pirated versions of copyrighted content.

Dotcom's fortune convinced New Zealand immigration officials to overlook his prior convictions for computer fraud in Germany, according to public records obtained by the Associated Press, which appear to show that Dotcom was granted residency on the basis of his "substantial economic contribution to New Zealand."

Dotcom faces an extradition hearing on Aug. 20.

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