Kim Dotcom's judgment day: Supreme Court ruling on extradition imminent

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will rule whether Megaupload millionaire Kim Dotcom is liable for extradition to the United States for his alleged crimes.

But even if it says yes, he is, that doesn't necessarily mean the saga is over - the ball will be in Justice Minister Kris Faafoi's court, requiring his signature before an extradition can take place

Dotcom's legal woes began in the infamous January 2012 raid on his rented Coatesville mansion, on the outskirts of Auckland. Armed police, acting on behalf of the FBI, took the German immigrant into custody. US authorities alleged he'd made his millions through copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.

Dotcom was the brains behind Megaupload, a site which allowed users to share files on the internet. Dotcom always maintained they took down content that infringed on others' copyright. 

He's been in and out of court ever since, alleging he's been the victim of a Hollywood-led conspiracy. In 2015 a District Court judge ruled he could be extradited to the US, this was backed up by the High Court in 2017 and the Court of Appeal upheld those decisions in 2018. 

The case against him has also been marred by later revelations Dotcom was being spied on illegally, concerns over the legality of the raid itself and whether his alleged crimes warrant extradition. 

Criminal barrister Steve Bonnar told Newshub three courts have already ruled he is eligible for extradition.

"Obviously one can't prejudge the outcome, but one would think that there is a reasonable prospect that the Supreme Court will uphold the decisions of the lower courts."

If it does, and Faafoi signs the order to extradite him, Bonnar said Dotcom is likely to ask for a judicial review - meaning once again, his extradition will be put on hold. 

"It's quite possible that he could commence new litigation challenging the Minister of Justice's decision by way of judicial review."

Dotcom's arguments are likely to be that Faafoi didn't properly consider legal advice, that he wouldn't receive a fair trial in the US, and that if he's found guilty in the US, the punishment would be far harsher than he would receive in New Zealand, NZME reports.

A regular tweeter, Dotcom has been silent the past few days - his last update a photo taken at Piha beach with his wife Liz. 

Bonnar said even with the money Megaupload made, legal or not, Dotcom has been a successful businessman. 

"I understand he's had other business interests since which have not been subject to that, so I understand he's living reasonably comfortably."

If the Supreme Court rules against extradition, that doesn't mean he still wouldn't be a wanted man in the US. If he's deported over his failure to declare convictions he received prior to coming to New Zealand, it's likely he'll end up back in his native Germany - which has reportedly rejected US demands for extradition for others involved in Megaupload. 

Dotcom last week said the date chosen for the Supreme Court decision - the same as the US election - was no coincidence.

"Will New Zealand sell its soul and ignore its own laws which are supposed to protect me or will New Zealand right the terrible wrong that was done?" he tweeted. "We find out on US Election Day, the date chosen by the Supreme Court to ensure minimal international news coverage of this decision."

Three others involved with Megaupload are also set to find out if they're liable for extradition - Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato. Ortmann and van der Kolk continue to work on, a privacy-focused online storage service like Google Drive or Microsoft's OneDrive, while Batato is reportedly working as a marketing manager.