By Boris Jancic
Kim Dotcom's co-accused feared the internet mogul would take the last of Megaupload's money and run if things went wrong, lawyers arguing for their extradition to the United States say.
Judge Nevin Dawson is hearing evidence in Auckland District Court on whether Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk should be surrendered to US authorities.
Dubbed the "Mega Conspiracy" by the FBI, US authorities allege the four made $US175 million by facilitating and encouraging piracy on their file storage website, Megaupload, and related sites.
On Friday Christine Gordon QC, who is acting for the US, read an extensive series of Skype conversations and emails between the men, arguing they revealed they knew the business was a criminal enterprise from the start.
In one conversation, two of the accused discussed how they expected Dotcom to flee if the business hit trouble.
"The fact is when there's no way out, Kim will also grab the last couple of millions and go on hiding mode again when that happens," Van der Kolk was quoted as telling Ortmann.
"The likeliness of us getting in trouble for some reason is getting bigger."
Dotcom stared forward and gently shook his head once as the evidence was read out.
Ms Gordon read a message from Dotcom suggesting the group urgently hire a lawyer to fend off lawsuits.
Ortmann replied they should just "promise some kind of technical filtering crap and then never implement it".
In dozens of other quotes Ms Gordon went over, Dotcom described the group as "evil", Van der Kolk said he always lived from "piracy" and the accused acknowledged the vast majority of the content going through their site was piracy.
"If copyright holders would really know how big our business is they would surely try to do something against it," Ortmann was quoted as saying.
Ms Gordon said the site paid bonuses to copyright infringers using the service, rather than banning them, and then presented an innocent facade while defrauding copyright holders by telling them files were being taken down - when in reality they were uploaded in other locations.
The company paid more than $3 million to uploaders, according to the FBI.
More than half of the viewing traffic on the site was associated with repeat infringers and Dotcom called them "the special people", Ms Gordon said.
"That's the big flaw in the rewards programme: we are making profit off more than 90 per cent infringing files," Van der Kolk told Ortmann over Skype.
The men face charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and two kinds of criminal copyright infringement based on an FBI investigation going back to 2010.
If extradited and found guilty in the US, they face decades of jail time.
The hearing continues on Monday.