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Kim Dotcom bail appeal dismissed, funds released

Published: 12:34PM Wednesday February 29, 2012 Source: ONE News

Alleged internet pirate Kim Dotcom remains free on bail after a court dismissed a bid to put him back behind bars and released some of his funds.

The 38-year-old was last week granted electronic bail in the North Shore District Court after it was previously denied because he was regarded as too great a flight risk.

The Crown, on behalf of the US Government, argued in the High Court in Auckland today that there is a very real risk Dotcom still has access to offshore funds.

But Justice Tim Brewer dismissed the appeal, while describing Dotcom as a "very unusual character".

Dotcom said outside the court he planned to celebrate with his wife and children tonight.

Living costs granted

Meanwhile, the High Court has granted Dotcom and his wife Mona access to funds to pay for living costs over the next three weeks.

Dotcom and his wife were seeking to have $220,000 a month of their money unfrozen to cover living costs including security guards, nannies and a butler.

The court gave an interim order which allows Mona, who is due to give birth soon, just over $30,000 to cover medical and living expenses for the next three weeks.

The order also allows Dotcom's co-accused Bram van der Kolk to access $10,000 for living expenses and have access to his car.

A further $74,000 has been granted to pay off a debt.

Crown lawyer Anne Toohey said the request for $220,000 was unreasonable considering the average New Zealand family gets by on just over $6000 per month.

The large sum would also drain the only New Zealand bank account available to Dotcom - a RaboBank account holding $300,000.

Toohey said the application for living costs included $29,000 for a butler, nannies and his wife's personal assistant and $28,678 living expenses.

Discussions between lawyers earlier in February put the figure at $10,000 per month.

"That seems to have grown 20-fold to over $220,000 since the 9th of February," Toohey said.

Other expenses Dotcom wants covered include $24,000 for security, $1 million annually for lease of mansion, $600,000 per annum for maintenance of property, $1000 for cell phone bills, $5000 for a landline, $6500 for a private tutor for 4-year-old with autism and $8500 for petrol.

Wife investigated

Meanwhile, it emerged today that US authorities are investigating Dotcom's pregnant wife, Mona Dotcom, as part of a world-wide sting on internet piracy.

Toohey said she had received a preliminary application from the US indicating that Mona could have been involved in Megaupload.

Toohey said she would clarify the matter with authorities overnight.

Dotcom's assets were frozen last month after he was arrested during a raid at the $30m Coatesville mansion he rents.

He is facing an extradition trial in August to the United States where he is accused of breaching copyright laws costing owners more than US$500 million.

As part of his bail conditions, Dotcom is fitted with an electronic bracelet and is not allowed to use the internet or travel more than 80 kilometres from the property.

Dotcom and three others were arrested in January after police raided his rented mansion in Coatesville at the request of the FBI. Police cut Dotcom out of a safe room he had barricaded himself in.

Mathias Ortmann, Bran van der Kolk and Finn Batato have already been granted bail.

More charges of copyright infringement and fraud were brought against Dotcom and several of his associates by US authorities on February 18.

Dotcom was originally charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two substantive counts of copyright infringement.

Dotcom says he is preparing to fight the charges against him before his extradition hearing in August.

He denies any wrongdoing and consistently says he will not try to leave the country.

- with Fairfax