The Inquirer-Home

Inside the world of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom

Analysis A mini profile of the newly-famous man
Tue Jan 31 2012, 11:39
Kim Dotcom Megaupload

THIS MONTH the United States, working along with New Zealand law enforcement authorities, threw a net over Megaupload and its founders and gave the world its latest alleged super villain, a Mr Kim Dotcom.

Kim Dotcom MegauploadBut who is this Kim Dotcom? Well, he is something of a playboy and a joker who likes to show off, spend money, and play first person shooter games online. He has also got pretty rich, at 37 years old.

Reports about Dotcom paint a picture of a colourful, larger than life man who laughs off the controversies of his past, while creating new ones. This is perhaps best seen in the correspondence that he had with his neighbours when he moved into his new home in New Zealand.

The Guardian newspaper reports that when Dotcom moved into his new £15.6m mansion on the outskirts of Auckland, he sent neighbours an odd message that was as light-hearted as it was vaguely threatening.

"Dear Neighborhood-watch," it said, "Let me assume you that having a criminal Neighbor like me comes with benefits...

"1. Our newly opened local money laundering facility can help you with your tax fraud optimization. 2. Our network of international insiders can provide you with valuable stock tips. 3. My close personal relations with other (far worse) criminals can help you whenever you have to deal with a nasty Neighbor."

He added that he and his family loved New Zealand and called on the neighbourhood watch to accept him as a friend and someone that could do good for the country. However, he might have blown it when he added a line suggesting that people visiting him should "bring the cocaine".

We wonder what those neighbours thought when less that two years later police had to cut him out of a panic room in that same rather expansive chateau.

In that letter, Dotcom acknowledged that he had served prison time - he did ten years for insider trading - but said that he was in charge of a successful company in Megaupload.

It is difficult to quantify how successful Megaupload was, but it is easy to try to put a figure on Dotcom's personal wealth, thanks again to the reports that sprang up after his arrest.

The Guardian has it that he earned more than £100m in allegedly "illegal profits", while other stories point at the fleet of cars that he owned, which we learn had license plates like "EVIL", "HACKER", "GOD", "GUILTY" and "STONED", and are together worth around £4m.

He liked to drive those cars too, and fast, and a search for his real name, Kim Schmitz, on Youtube does not just turn up him beating everyone at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, it also shows him behind the wheel.

One video shows him taking part in the Gumball rally, a petrol head mad dash across country, while another shows him tearing across a golf course. The sense of humour he shows here is repeated in a prank video that shows him scaring people in Hong Kong with a megaphone.

However, behind the jokes lies what looks like a criminal to the entertainment industry cartels and US authorities. They have suggested that Dotcom was aware that Megaupload's business was not legitimate, but of course they're going have to prove that in court to make criminal copyright infringement charges stick.

USA Today said that when he forwarded on a news article about US authorities putting the boot into filesharing web sites he added the comment, "This is a serious threat to our business". This might come back to haunt him.

Kim Dotcom is being held in New Zealand on various charges. He was denied bail last week. µ


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