German entrepreneur and political activist Kim Dotcom has acknowledged that he has run out of money after spending over $US10 million on legal costs.
Speaking through a Skype call at the unBound Digital conference in London, Dotcom said his three-year legal fight could be coming to an end. “My legal team resigned after I ran out of money,” Dotcom said. “I spent $US10 million to defend myself. They have drained all my resources.”
Dotcom was arrested in 2012 after a dramatic police raid on his $US24 million mansion in New Zealand. The New Zealand government had worked together with copyright enforcement agencies in the US to bring down the serial entrepreneur, accusing him of aiding copyright pirates through his Megaupload file-sharing site.
Dotcom said the appearance could be his last public interview, because he suspected that the New Zealand government could use his lack of funds to revoke his bail Thursday during his next bail hearing.
“I’m an easy target because of my flamboyant lifestyle,” he said. “It’s hard to keep a low profile when you have number plates with ‘GOD’ and ‘STONED’ on them. Also, I’m German, and Hollywood loves German Bond villains.”
At its peak, Mega was one of the biggest sites on the internet. Accounting for over 4% of global internet traffic, the file-sharing site had 50 million unique visitors every day. It even launched high-profile ad campaigns with big names in the entertainment industry.
But the police accuse Dotcom of enabling online piracy, charging him with racketeering, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, and conspiring to commit money laundering.
Dotcom has always denied the charges against him, saying Tuesday that “Megaupload had 100% takedown for clients and gave Hollywood studios direct access. It was the same story with Iraq and weapons of destruction. The US government abused its power. It has no ethics anymore. I’ve lost my faith in the law. It’s just ‘who pays, wins.'”
Exactly one year after police shut down Megaupload, Dotcom launched a new file-sharing site: Mega. This new site features strong encryption, advertising itself as a safe place to store files away from government spying. Dotcom says that Mega has merged with a company listed on the New Zealand stock exchange and is valued at $US210 million.
But Dotcom made it clear to the audience at unBound Digital that he had no ownership stake in Mega. Instead, the company is owned by his wife, from whom he recently separated.
A recent report in the New Zealand Herald said that Dotcom was living alone in his giant mansion, prevented from venturing outside. But Dotcom denied those claims Tuesday:
“They said I’m a lonely man alone in my mansion, but my kids are living with me. I’m playing with them every day. I’m a happy man because of my kids. If they were not around, it would be much darker.”
Facing a return to jail after running out of money, Dotcom had a single plea for the audience in what may be his last interview: “If I go back to jail, send me cards … cards with photos of cats on.”
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