Under-fire cyber tycoon Kim Dotcom hits back at American prosecutors

 

Helicopters buzzed overhead and armed men in uniform abseiled down the walls of an opulent mansion in the countryside outside Auckland today. But this time the “police raid” was just a stunt to herald Kim Dotcom’s launch of a new file-sharing website, to replace the one closed down by US authorities exactly a year ago.

Mr Dotcom – born Kim Schmitz – is on bail and fighting extradition to the US over charges that his Megaupload website facilitated the illegal sharing of copyrighted films, TV shows and music. But the cyber tycoon, who moved to New Zealand from Hong Kong in 2010, denies thumbing his nose at prosecutors and Hollywood by creating a new file-sharing service, called Mega.

“Mega is going to be huge and nothing will stop Mega,” the flamboyant German declared yesterday, shortly before a lavish launch party in the sprawling grounds of his rented NZ$30m (£15.8m) home.

The 39-year-old claimed the new site – which, like Megaupload, enables users to store and share large files – was legally watertight. Sophisticated encryption software ensures files are accessible only to people who upload them, and who can decide with whom to share them. On Megaupload, users could search for files. On Mega, since the content is hidden from site administrators, they bear no responsibility for it, or so Mr Dotcom argues.

Others may disagree, but that did not dampen Mr Doctom’s spirits. Mega, he told 200 party guests, had half a million registered users within hours of starting up. In fact, he said, traffic was so heavy that the site slowed to a virtual standstill, frustrating many would-be users.

The mood at Dotcom Mansion was very different a year ago, when the master of the house was rudely awakened by the dawn arrival of scores of New Zealand police and special forces officers in helicopters and vans. They found him cowering in a “panic room”, near a safe containing a shotgun.

The officers, armed with automatic weapons and acting on a request from the FBI, confiscated millions of dollars worth of cars, including a Lamborghini LM002, a 1957 El Dorado, a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, a pink Series 62 Cadillac convertible and 15 Mercedes. They also took away Harley Davidson motorbikes, jetskis, artworks and eight flat-screen TVs.

In what has been called the world’s biggest online piracy case, US authorities allege Mr Dotcom earned more than US$175m (£110m) from advertising on Megaupload and from the site’s premium paid service. Charged with money laundering, racketeering and copyright theft, he could be jailed for up to 55 years if convicted. His extradition hearing is set down for August.

The convicted hacker turned internet mogul – who has compared himself, variously, with Bill Gates, Julian Assange and Martin Luther King – denies the charges.

Mr Dotcom, whose home features a heated, spring water lap pool with underwater speakers, reportedly spent NZ$1m on a New Year’s Eve fireworks display which he watched from a helicopter.

Despite his taste for grand gestures, Hollywood studios are unimpressed by his latest venture. “We’ll reserve final judgement until we have a chance to take a closer look, but given Kim Dotcom’s history … count us as sceptical,” the Motion Picture Assocation of America said in a statement.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP FICO SOLUTION ANALYST

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP FICO SOLUTI...

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

SAP PROJECT MANAGER

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MAN...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star