21 Jan 2012

Who is Kim Dotcom?

5:32 am on 21 January 2012

Kim Dotcom, the entrepreneur arrested in New Zealand as part of a US-led operation against international internet piracy, is a mysterious yet flamboyant figure.

The 37-year-old German national and New Zealand resident changed his name from Kim Schmitz and started Megaupload, the internet's largest file-sharing website.

On Friday, Kim Dotcom was arrested along with three men in New Zealand and three men and two corporations overseas.

All seven accused are charged with running an international organised criminal enterprise, allegedly responsible for worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, including books, music and movies.

Kim Dotcom divides his time between Hong Kong and a multimillion- dollar leased mansion at Coatesville, about 30km northwest of Auckland, surrounded by parkland, bodyguards and a fleet of cars.

On Friday, luxury cars with a total value of about $6 million were seized from his house, including a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe worth at more than $500,000.

Videos posted on the internet of Mr Dotcom show the novelty of being mega rich is far from wearing off, as he puts on a $1 million fireworks display for the people of Auckland and races around a golf course in a fast car.

However, despite the flamboyant gestures and videos, he is rarely seen on the Auckland social circuit.

Amanda Midgley from the Sunday Star-Times' gossip column About Town says Kim Dotcom is a mysterious character who keeps tight control on his image.

"You've got this multi-millionaire living an extravagant lifestyle and certainly it's almost that Bruce Wayne-Batman scenario where he's very rarely, if ever, spotted but then goes and throws the entire city of Auckland a massive fireworks display to celebrate New Year's.

"So he certainly wants people to know his name, but perhaps not much more than that."

Convictions disclosed to Immigration NZ

In his home country of Germany Kim Dotcom - who is huge in personality and body weight - is known as a notorious computer hacker and has been convicted of insider trading.

That has not stopped the entrepreneur, who also has Finnish nationality, recently being given New Zealand residency.

The Department of Labour declined to be interviewed by Radio New Zealand about his visa status, but did offer this statement from Warwick Tuck, the acting deputy chief executive of immigration:

"Mr Dotcom was granted residence in 2010 under the Investor Plus category. Mr Dotcom made full disclosure of his previous convictions and they were taken into account and the granting of his residence.

"The Immigration Act 2009 allows for discretion to be exercised in certain cases. In this particular case, Immigration New Zealand weighed the character issue and any associated risk to New Zealand against potential benefits to New Zealand."

Immigration New Zealand says for privacy reasons, it cannot reveal which convictions Kim Dotcom disclosed to them in his application.

Mr Dotcom's Megaupload business has now been shut down as investigations carry on in New Zealand and the United States.

Radio New Zealand tried to contact several of his business associates, but all refused to comment on Friday.