Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload co-accused Bram van der Kolk have won an interim reprieve from having their assets seized by the Crown and passed on to US authorities.
In March, a US Federal District Court ruled assets belonging to Dotcom and van der Kolk should be forfeited to the Crown, meaning the Official Assignee would take control and custody. The deputy solicitor general then went ahead with registering the US order, allowing the Crown to seize the assets but Dotcom and van der Kolk subsequently sought a judicial review, via a hearing in the Auckland High Court last month.
In an interim judgment, Justice Rebecca Ellis determined that the police and deputy solicitor general take no further action on the US civil forfeiture until further order of the court.
"It is, I think, self evident from the above discussion that the plaintiffs have a substantial position to preserve and there will be very real consequences if it is not protected, pending final determination of the claim for review," Justice Ellis said. "If the provisional view I have formed about the unavailability of post-registration relief is correct, authorising the registration application to proceed now might deprive the plaintiffs of any ability to defend the extradition or to pursue their appeals against the forfeiture order in the United States."
The internet entrepreneur and his co-accused have a series of long-running court battles with the Crown and US federal government, which has been seeking to extradite them where they face charges of conspiracy to operate websites used to illegally distribute copyrighted material via Megaupload.