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August 12, 2016

Kim Dotcom Loses Appeal to Reclaim Seized Millions

RICHMOND, Va.—The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Kim Dotcom—founder of Megaupload—cannot recover assets seized by the federal government because he is still considered a fugitive from federal criminal charges. Because the New Zealand resident has not turned himself in to authorities to be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for charges of racketeering, criminal copyright infringement and money laundering, the court ruled he cannot reclaim the $67 million in property and money seized during the investigation. Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in Germany, formed the Hong Kong-based Megaupload Ltd. in 2005. The company operated online services related to file storage and viewing, including Megaupload.com, Megalive.com and Megaporn.com. The U.S. Department of Justice seized the domain names and associated sites on Jan. 19, 2012, after Dotcom and others were indicted and arrested for the copyright infringement and money laundering charges. At that time, the Customs and Excise Department of Hong Kong seized $42 million in assets from the company. Dotcom, who is a New Zealand resident, has denied any wrongdoing, and claims he cannot be held responsible for parties who used his sites to illegally upload and share copyrighted materials. A pinned tweet dated March 28, 2015, on Dotcom’s Twitter account reads, “I never lived there I never traveled there I had no company there But all I worked for now belongs to the U.S.” Another tweet, dated Aug. 10, 2016, says, “Good that I’ll never get extradited to the land of corrupt politicians & rigged courts. New Zealand Appeal Judges will apply the law. I win.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the court’s decision on Aug. 12 affirmed a lower court’s decision allowing the federal government to retain the seized assets.  U.S. prosecutors claim Megaupload.com allowed users to illegally download songs, TV shows, movies and porn, costing studios and record companies more than $500 million in revenue.

 
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