Kim Dotcom, the founder of online file-sharing website Megaupload who was arrested in Auckland on Friday along with three others on charges of internet piracy and money laundering, appeared in a New Zealand court on Monday. The accused appealed for bail assuring the court that he would neither abscond nor resume his business from elsewhere.
"Mr Dotcom emphatically denies any criminal misconduct or wrongdoing, and denies the existence of a mega conspiracy," the defence lawyer, Paul Davison, told the court.
Opposing bail, the prosecutor, Anne Toohey, said Dotcom posed a flight risk and that he held German and Finnish passports, besides possessing multiple identities with a history of fleeing criminal charges. Dotcom is also known as Kim Schmitz.
The police raided Dotcom's country estate on Friday before arresting him at the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was apparently drawn out of his hideout by the police.
The court delayed the hearing on bail owing to certain legal issues to be sorted out in a closed court. The court hearing comes in the wake of media reports that Dotcom ordered around NZ$4 million ($3.2 million) of renovations to the sprawling mansion that he leased near Auckland, with its manicured lawns, fountains, pools, palm-lined paths and extensive security.
Dotcom's defence lawyer Davison argued that the passports of the accused were seized, his funds frozen, had co-operated with authorities, and sought court permission to make New Zealand his permanent home.
U.S. authorities want Dotcom extradited on charges of costing copyright-holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue through Megaupload's online piracy and illegal transactions.
"His business did not reproduce or copy material as alleged," defense lawyer, Davison told the court. He said copyright-holders had been given access to Megaupload to identify improper posting of material taken off their site.
Prime Minister John Key said Dotcom's criminal record had prevented him from buying the NZ$30 million mansion and 20 hectare property, as he was not a "person of good character."
He insisted immigration authorities took into account the wiping of Dotcom's criminal record under Germany's "clean-slate" laws.
"New Zealand officials contacted the German police. They confirmed that was the situation, that they had no further concerns and so, on that basis, they made the call to grant him residency. That's not unusual," Key said on TVNZ.