* Main suspect barricaded himself in safe room of mansion
* Police overcome electronic locks, cut way in
* Firearms, computers, goods seized
* Bail hearing set for NZ court on Monday
By Mantik Kusjanto
WELLINGTON, Jan 21 New Zealand police on
Saturday revealed bizarre details of the arrest of the
suspected kingpin of an Internet copyright theft case against
the James Bond-like backdrop of a country mansion hideaway with
electronic locks, a safe room and a pink Cadillac.
German national Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was
one of four men arrested on Friday, a day before his 38th
birthday, in an investigation of the Megaupload.com website led
by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The group was accused of engaging in a scheme that took more
than $500 million away from copyright holders and generated over
$175 million in proceeds from subscriptions and advertising.
A police official said dozens of officers, backed by
helicopters, forced their way into the mansion, nestled in lush,
rolling farmland, after Dotcom refused them entry, a scene more
reminiscent of a high-octane spy drama than the usual
policeman's lot in rural New Zealand.
"Despite our staff clearly identifying themselves, Mr Dotcom
retreated into the house and activated a number of
electronic-locking mechanisms," said Detective Inspector Grant
Wormald from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New
Officers broke the locks and Dotcom barricaded himself into
a safe room which officers had to cut their way through to gain
"Once they gained entry into this room, they found Mr Dotcom
near a firearm which had the appearance of a shortened shotgun,"
he said. "It was definitely not as simple as knocking at the
Two firearms were seized and a 55-year-old New Zealand man
has since been charged with illegal possession of a pistol.
Computers and documents were also retrieved and more than NZ$10
million ($8 million) was seized from financial institutions.
Television footage showed vehicles, including a pink
Cadillac and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, being removed
from the property.
The house where Dotcom was arrested was one of the largest
and most expensive in the country, worth around NZ$30 million.
Located in hills northwest of New Zealand's largest city,
the mansion is surrounded -- at suitably discreet distances --
by other substantial country homes and luxury lifestyle blocks
complete with stables, swimming pools and tennis courts.
Dotcom leased the property after being blocked from buying
it last year by the government after failing to meet a "good
character" test for migrants, although he was granted residency
Dotcom has previous convictions for insider trading and
embezzlement from his time in Germany and Thailand, according
immigration authorities, leading some opposition politicians to
question why he was allowed to settle in the first place.
"New Zealand is under the radar, away from Interpol and a
better lifestyle than Eastern Europe," Jeffrey Carr, an Internet
security expert founder of Taia Global Inc, said of Dotcom's
decision to settle in New Zealand.
"They obviously weren't aware how closely the FBI has been
building its international relationships over the past few
The FBI said Dotcom personally made $42 million from
Megaupload in 2010 alone.
Standing some 6'7" (2 metres) tall and reportedly weighing
around 300 pounds (136 kg), Dotcom appeared to revel in his
Personalized number plates on some 20 vehicles seized from
the site included KIMCOM, HACKER, STONED, GUILTY, MAFIA, GOD and
POLICE, according to the indictment.
One video on YouTube shows him racing a Mercedes in the
Gumball 3000 road rally and talking about bribing a Moroccan
Another clip shows a 2011 New Year's Eve fireworks display
over Auckland organized and paid for by Dotcom to celebrate his
family being granted residency. The display was reported to have
The arrests were made as the debate over online piracy
reaches fever pitch in Washington where Congress is trying to
craft tougher legislation.
Lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation on Friday,
postponing a critical vote in a victory for Internet companies
that staged a mass online protest against the fast-moving bills.
The movie and music industries want Congress to crack down
on Internet piracy and content theft, but major Internet
companies like Google and Facebook have complained that
current drafts of the legislation would lead to censorship.
Dotcom and the other men made a brief court appearance on
Friday will appear again on Monday. They face extradition and a
trial in the United States.
On Friday, in a show of support, hackers attacked and
temporarily disabled a number of government and entertainment
company websites, including the U.S. Justice Department's
U.S. Justice Department officials have said that the
estimate of $500 million in economic harm to copyright holders
cited in a U.S. indictment was at the low end.
The allegations included copyright infringement as well as
conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to
commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Two of the offences carry a maximum penalty of 20 years.
The companies charged, Megaupload Ltd and Vestor Ltd, were
both registered in Hong Kong and owned either in large part or
solely by Dotcom.
Some 100 officers raided four premises in Hong Kong on
Friday including luxury hotel rooms, seizing computer equipment
and freezing HK$330 million ($42.5 million) in financial assets,
according to Hong Kong Customs.
Megaupload has boasted of having more than 150 million
registered users and 50 million daily visitors, according to the
indictment. At one point, it was estimated to be the 13th most
frequently visited website on the Internet.
Users could upload material to the company's sites which
then would create a link that could be distributed. The sites,
which included video, music and pornography, did not provide
search capabilities but rather relied on others to publish the
links, the U.S. indictment said.
Megaupload's U.S. lawyer said the company would "vigorously
defend itself" and was trying to recover its servers and get
The Megaupload group used more than 1,500 computer servers
in Virginia, Washington D.C., France and the Netherlands to host
its sites, according to the FBI.