Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom will be extradited to the United States over charges concerning Megaupload, a file-sharing website he founded in 2005. The ruling was made by the Auckland High Court on Monday following an identical decision made by a lower New Zealand court in 2015. As expected, the defendant's lawyer Ron Mansfield criticized the decision and announced that his client will be appealing to the Court of Appeal of New Zealand. Dotcom, born as Kim Schmitz, could now be extradited to the United States due to allegations of wire fraud, copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and money laundering. The Auckland High Court found Dotcom guilty on 13 counts, thus upholding the initial 2015 ruling. However, judge Murray Gilbert described the initial ruling as being "flawed" in several aspects, noting that there's no copyright law in New Zealand that would make Dotcom eligible for extradition.
Regardless, Gilbert stated that the founder of Megaupload is eligible for extradition to the United States due to allegations of wire fraud. The same court ruled that former executives of Megaupload Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram van der Kolk are also eligible for extradition due to similar reasons. U.S. prosecutors are currently seeking Dotcom and his former associates due to the fact that Megaupload allegedly caused over $500 million in damages to various record companies and film production studios in the country. The prosecutors allege that the former file-sharing service made over $175 million in revenue by actively encouraging its users to infringe various copyrights.
Megaupload was shut down in early 2012 after Dotcom and his co-accused have been arrested by New Zealand authorities following several indictments filed against the four men in Virginia, United States. The arrest was made during a raid on Dotcom's mansion in Auckland during which authorities seized approximately $17 million in assets like luxury cars, consumer electronics, and works of art. In the aftermath of the raid, Dotcom had $175 million in cash frozen. Seeing how the controversial Internet entrepreneur is now planning to appeal the decision of the Auckland High Court, it will probably be a while until this situation is resolved. Even if the Court of Appeal of New Zealand eventually finds him guilty, it's unlikely Dotcom will be extradited to the United States until 2018.