When I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Dotcom this past October in Auckland, we spent most of the time in his recording studio. It’s there that Kim gets a change of pace from his otherwise locked-down life under house arrest at his massive compound just outside of New Zealand’s largest city. In the studio, there are no lawyers or business stresses for Kim to deal with—just EDM beats. Yes, that’s correct. The man is working on an EDM album.
While Kim, VICE's Tim Pool, and I chatted about Dotcom's life and his case, he surprised us with a bit of information that had not previously been reported in the press. It appears that when Kim was infamously and theatrically raided by the authorities in New Zealand in January of 2012, his mother in Germany was also swarmed by assault rifle toting authorities who came to seize a car that Kim bought for her. After pressing him for more information, Kim admitted that this was the first time he was discussing the incident with his mother to reporters.
Once I got back to Canada, Kim and I got back in touch to discuss this incident in further detail. “On the day of the raid German police showed up at her house, armed with MP5s, and they seized her Mercedes Benz ML I gifted to her," he told me. "They blocked off the road to her house with two police vans at each end of the road. Apparently to make sure that nobody escapes with the car.”
Kim tells me the car “was registered to one of our Munich employees because that employee was servicing the car for her and taking it to Mercedes whenever there was an issue or the car needed winter tires.”
While Motherboard was unable to find German police records detailing the raid, the US Justice Department lists receipts for Kim's purchase of his mother's Mercedes ML 350 in its summary of evidence for the Megaupload trial, and the car is also listed as property for forfeiture in the DoJ's superceding indictment.
The raid on Kim’s estate was surely traumatic for him and his wife, Mona Dotcom, who at the time was pregnant with twins, but to add in a raid of his mother would have brought stress levels to a boiling point. Kim told me he feels the raid on his mother’s property was “outrageous.”
“I made a lot of my money from stock trading with funds that I earned before Megaupload even started. Megaupload only had 9 percent of its revenue and users from the US (within US jurisdiction)," he said. "All other customers and 70 percent of our servers were non-US. Yet here they are saying that all my assets, the assets of my staff, wife and mother, every single penny, is somehow tainted by Megaupload and seized, without a hearing, without a trial."
"We can't even get our clothing or furniture shipped from Hong Kong to New Zealand because the US government insists that everything we owned in our Hong Kong apartment should be auctioned off (sold) and funds seized," he continued. "All of that happened almost two years ago with no end in sight.”
This all out seizure of Kim Dotcom’s property speaks to the viciousness with which the authorities have gone after Kim, and it certainly seems as if Kim and his former enterprise, Megaupload, are being used as an example to future, alleged infringers of Hollywood’s copyrights. Kim’s mother told him that she was “shocked” by the raid. “She could not believe the amount of people that came to her house," Dotcom said. "Or that they could just take her car. Or that they were armed and blocked the roads in a way that all neighbors thought police was arresting a terror suspect.”
Kim refers to raids on both his home in New Zealand and his mother’s in Germany as a “coordinated global strike.”
He told me that other people in Kim’s close circle were targeted severely by authorities. "The personal bank accounts of my personal assistant and head of security are still seized," he said. "These staff members are not indicted or charged with anything. But the US government keeps their accounts seized to this date. They have also seized personal items belonging to my wife. Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, anniversary gifts... All the beautiful things I bought for her.”
Evidently the fervor with which the authorities have targeted Kim Dotcom is coming from a very aggressive place. The message these raids send is that the powers that be will not condone anyone who appears to be making profits from what they allege to be copyright infringement, and Dotcom's multi-year fight against that message still has no end in sight.