Mega.co.nz kingpin Kim Dotcom may soon be booted out of New Zealand – because of a speeding ticket.
The resilient and colorful entrepreneur is living on the Pacific island having gained residency rights in 2010. But he is also wanted by the US authorities for running the Megaupload file-sharing website, a service Dotcom describes as a cloud storage system but others claim is a massive copyright-infringement operation. Megaupload eventually shutdown, and was resurrected in 2012 as Mega.
The penniless rotund supremo has repeatedly thumbed his nose at the authorities, something that typically lends a certain scrutiny to people's past. And so it is in this case.
It turns out that when applying for New Zealand residency, Mr Dotcom disclosed his previous convictions for hacking and insider trading – but selected "No" against the question: "Have you or your family members included in your application ever been convicted of an offence (including a traffic offence) committed in the last five years involving dangerous driving."
Eight months earlier, however, he had in fact pled guilty to driving 149km/h (93mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone, and there is significant documentation to back it up.
Dotcom was driving a 3.6-litre Mercedes near his mansion in New Zealand, and the police had to chase him to catch up. He pleaded guilty by letter, was fined NZ$500 ($380) with NZ$130 ($100) costs, and was banned from driving for six months.
The Mega baron faces a US extradition hearing in June, but he could be deported before that – and the NZ immigration department has acknowledged as much. The New Zealand Herald quoted an immigration manager Katie Knowles as saying that the agency was "assessing Mr Dotcom's liability for deportation" for not mentioning the conviction.
She told the paper: "In the interests of fairness and natural justice, Mr Dotcom and his advisers have been asked to make submissions on the matter by 4 May. Once that process is complete a decision will then be made by the Minister of Immigration on whether Mr Dotcom is liable for deportation."
Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in Germany, summed up the situation more bluntly:
Dear Mr. Dotcom,
Here are your options: Extradition or Deportation.
Regards, The New Zealand GovernmentApril 16, 2015
Last month, the US government seized millions of dollars worth of Dotcom's assets. And a request to postpone the extradition hearing was denied. If he loses his bid to stay in New Zealand, he will be deported to either Finland or Germany – and where next, who knows? ®