US Seizure of Kim Dotcom’s Assets Will Stand, Says Appeals Court

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in favor of the American government’s seizure of a large number of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s overseas assets. Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, multiple cars, four jet skis, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000. After years of delay, in December 2015, Dotcom was finally ordered to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges. But his appeal is set to be heard before the High Court in Auckland on August 29. In its court filings, prosecutors argued that because Dotcom had not appeared to face the charges against him in the United States, he is therefore susceptible to “fugitive disentitlement.” That legal theory posits that if a defendant has fled the country to evade prosecution, he or she cannot make a claim to the assets that the government wants to seize under civil forfeiture. But as the Dotcom legal team claimed, the U.S. can neither use its legal system to seize assets abroad nor can Dotcom be considered a fugitive if he has never set foot in the United States. However, the 4th Circuit disagreed: “Because the statute must apply to people with no reason to come to the United States other than to face charges, a “sole” or “principal” purpose test cannot stand. The principal reason such a person remains outside the United States will typically be that they live elsewhere. A criminal indictment gives such a person a reason to make the journey, and the statute is aimed at those who resist nevertheless.” Civil forfeiture in the United States allows law enforcement to seize one’s assets if they are believed to be illegally acquired — even without filing any criminal charges.


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