US Government Complicates Kim Dotcom’s Divorce
Mona Dotcom, somewhat recently estranged wife of Kim Dotcom, has petitioned the government that she has a 50% stake in the assets frozen and seized with the co-operation of New Zealand. Under New Zealand law, she would be entitled to her share of these assets if she could prove that she had no knowledge of the criminal activities of her husband. Since the prosecutors can prove that Mona had six Megaupload accounts with two of her personal e-mail addresses, they say it is very unlikely that she was not aware of the illegal nature of the business.
The government called into question the circumstances of Mona meeting her husband in November 2007, pointing out that he’d had a child with his previous wife just a few months before and did not divorce her until September 2008. Mona and Kim were married in September 2009, by which time, the government claims, much of the assets they’ve seized had already been acquired by Kim Dotcom.
Since the raid on Kim Dotcom‘s mansion in January 2012, he has made an effort to legitimize his assets and create revenue streams to support his children. Mega, the file hosting service which is reportedly worth 35 million New Zealand dollars, is one such venture. While Dotcom personally has no stake in it at present, he was able to make sure a trust was set up for his then-not-estranged-wife and children, about 17% of the company. Mega uses cryptography to try to prevent the government or anyone else from knowing what is being hosted or shared, including the service provider.
The government says that Mona’s claim on the luxury vehicles Dotcom owns is unfounded because she doesn’t even drive, a rather odd strategy for discounting someone’s claim to property. To whit:
But Mona Dotcom cannot even drive. Without that ability, it would seem nearly impossible for her to establish that she had dominion and control over the vehicles.
Dominion and control is another aspect of New Zealand law the government is hoping won’t allow Mona Dotcom’s motion to go forward, but it’s important to remember that driving is not required to have dominion or control over a motor vehicle. Indeed, there are other wealthy people who also don’t drive but also own several vehicles. Is the government about to argue that these people do not have dominion and control over their vehicles, either?
The government’s argument goes on to cite similar cases where a disenfranchised spouse had petitioned the government for their share of seized property back, and in some cases it has been determined that the spouse is not entitled to anything the criminal had before divorce proceedings begin. While it’s difficult to make out what the legalese is saying, it basically means that the government won’t interfere with alimony and child support with its seizures, but it will take everything from a married couple even when only one party is guilty of anything.
The motion, to strike Mona Dotcom’s claim down, was only filed on December 30th, so it will be some time yet before a decision comes out. It could be precedent setting, with the government eventually being forced to turn over half of what was seized from her estranged husband to Mrs. Dotcom.
Images from Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.