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10 years: Documents show maximum Megaupload sentence

Author
David Fisher, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 May 2022, 12:09pm
Megaupload coders Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann (right) arriving at the Supreme Court in 2019. Photo / File
Megaupload coders Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann (right) arriving at the Supreme Court in 2019. Photo / File

10 years: Documents show maximum Megaupload sentence

Author
David Fisher, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 May 2022, 12:09pm

The Megaupload pair who have done a deal to stop their extradition to the United States face charges of conspiring as part of an "organised criminal group" that included Kim Dotcom to unlawfully profit from copyright breaches.

The maximum sentence for any of the four charges Bram van der Kolk, 39, and Mathias Ortmann, 50, individually face was 10 years, according to charge sheets held at the Auckland District Court.

Their first appearance on the charges was to have taken place at the court this morning but the case has instead been transferred to the High Court at Auckland with the first hearing happening next month.

The deal between van der Kolk and Ortmann and the US has left Dotcom as the last man standing in an extradition process which could end with decades in a federal prison. The pair have not spoken to Dotcom in eight years.

The deal was revealed in the Herald last week with a statement from van der Kolk and Ortmann that said: "New Zealand is our home now and we want to stay here. The continuing uncertainty associated with the extradition case has taken a heavy toll on our lives and the time has come to move on."

Van der Kolk and Ortmann run Auckland-based cloud storage company Mega which is an international success story with 300 million users. They coded the website in 2012, the year of the Megaupload raid in which the website was taken down and they were arrested, along with Dotcom and Finn Batato.

The dates of offending are from January 1 2005 through to January 20 2012, which effectively span the existence of Megaupload. The charges put into New Zealand law the crimes much of what the men were accused of in US courts.

The court documents list Detective Inspector Stuart Mills of the police's Intercept and Technology Operations as the officer who has laid the charges.

The other New Zealand defendant, Batato, was dropped from the extradition case last year when it emerged he had life-threatening cancer. He has since used his freedom to visit Germany before returning to New Zealand to marry Simone Meier, with whom he has a child.

Outside New Zealand, there were three people charged in the FBI's Megaupload operation and only one to have been brought to the US. Andrus Nomm served a year and a day after a plea deal which involved testifying in support of the prosecution case.

The early days of the Megaupload case - Bram Van der Kolk, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Finn Batato at the Auckland High Court. Photo / File

The early days of the Megaupload case - Bram Van der Kolk, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Finn Batato at the Auckland High Court. Photo / File

Dotcom has used Twitter to say van der Kolk and Ortmann's deal opened a "portal".

"My co-defendants don't believe that they are criminals or members of an organised criminal group, they have said so repeatedly and that's the truth.

"They made a deal of convenience and if they can have their case heard in New Zealand courts so should I. A new portal has opened."

While floating the prospect of a deal, Dotcom has also used Twitter to accuse the New Zealand Government of corruption and to run polls asking who people trusted more - US President Joe Biden or Satan. As of this morning, four out of five Dotcom followers favoured Satan.

Dotcom also said on Twitter the US judge who has handled his case for a decade, Liam O'Grady, had stood down after his ownership of Disney shares had been raised.

Court records show O'Grady had been recently replaced on the case. Attempts by the Herald to reach him have been so far unsuccessful.

O'Grady recently recused himself from high-profile court case involving Amazon because his wife's investment portfolio included shares in the company.

Dotcom claimed the same had happened with the Megaupload case because of ownership in Disney shares.

Judicial records disclosed by O'Grady show share investments from 2011 onwards. In 2014 - two years after the Megaupload case began - those investments included Disney shares. Subsequent disclosures show continued ownership of those shares as part of a larger portfolio.

Dotcom said on Twitter: "He destroyed Megaupload without any hearing. He declared me a fugitive and ruled that my legal team can't make motions in his Court. He helped the DOJ to destroy the Megaupload servers containing user files and evidence."

O'Grady's ruling on Dotcom's fugitive status was upheld on appeal. US court records show a series of hearings were held over maintaining Megaupload servers.