Inappropriate but funny

May 31st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Security Intelligence Service chief Rebecca Kitteridge has apologised to Kim Dotcom for the behaviour of her spies, who swapped emails about the internet entrepreneur’s weight and wife while mocking his chances of getting New Zealand residency. …

One reply stated: “He was never going to get far from the cops on foot, was he?” Another SIS staffer said Dotcom was like the Daleks, the wheeled villains in Dr Who, because “he could be defeated by a small set of stairs”.

That may be the funniest thing ever written by an SIS Officer! Yes I know it was inappropriate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t very funny.

The more interesting aspect to this story is that the e-mails were released, and this is no doubt due to Kitteridge. In the past any e-mails about someone who had been investigated by the SIS would have been declined under the OIA, and it would not have been difficult to fund a reason to justify this such as prejudicing security or international relations.

The e-mails were written in a culture where they never ever thought they would be potentially released. In the past the SIS pretty much refused all OIAs. But Kitteridge has obviously decided that unless there is a direct link to security and international relations, then material will be released. This is a significant change – one of many the security agencies have gone through in recent years.  I suspect in future SIS staff will confine their humour to the oral sphere.

At some stage I’ll do a post looking at all the changes in the last few years around the security and intelligence agencies. They have been significant, and most heading in the right direction.

Tags: , ,

Dotcom gets what may be his final delay

May 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

A High Court judge has given Kim Dotcom and his co-accused more time to prepare for their extradition hearing.

The US government wants Mr Dotcom and co-accused Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk to go to the US to face copyright infringement charges for their alleged roles in file-sharing site Mega Upload.

While District Court judge Nevin Dawson had said the extradition hearing should take place on June 2, Justice Sarah Katz has quashed this decision. The High Court judge has told the District Court to set a date no earlier than September 1 this year.

 

September the 1st is a Tuesday so that day works!

However, the judge did not let Mr Dotcom and his co-accused off without a warning.

In her decision she says she has decided “with some reluctance” that the interests of natural justice require a later date.

“This should not be taken by the plaintiffs, however, as a signal that any ongoing funding or representation difficulties [if they arise] would be likely to justify further adjournments.

I would be willing to wager a lot of money that in a few months they will seek a further adjournment.

“On the contrary, the plaintiffs must take full responsibility for preparing their extradition hearing on whatever new date is allocated, with whatever level of legal support they are able to secure.”

Although Justice Katz tossed out Mr Dotcom and his co-accused’s arguments that they had not been given full and proper notice of the case, she said they were unable to prepare due to representation and funding.

 

The Justice is being generous. Dotcom had so much money he spent over a million dollars on the worst CD of all time. He also spent $4.5 million on possibly the worst political campaign of all time.

Because he spent all his money on music and politics, he couldn’t pay his lawyers, and hence he gets a delay.

Hopefully this is the last delay.

Tags:

Behind the Dotcom album

April 22nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A lengthy article by Hayden Donnell on the making of Kim Dotcom’s album. As you read this, recall how he bankrolled the worker’s party headed by Laila and Hone, and proudly supported by John Minto:

The young recording engineer looked in some pain. Tennis balls were being smashed into his body at full speed, in front of a crowd of people. This wasn’t what he’d signed up for. He had been hired to work on one of the most expensive albums in New Zealand music history – the debut by internet entrepreneur and fugitive from US justice, Kim Dotcom.

When the group weren’t recording, though, they indulged in hijinks and hazing. On this day witnesses describe the engineer as being dressed for tennis in a penguin costume. The hitter was an excellent tennis player. According to witnesses, Dotcom looked like he enjoyed the episode.

The young man went to work the next day covered in bruises, pulling up his shirt to show colleagues the blossoming patches of tender purple flesh. It wasn’t an isolated incident. He’d also reportedly vomited after being told to drink a cup of soy sauce during a recording session. Pranks and dares were hazards of the job. Making Dotcom’s Good Times meant enduring some pretty terrible times.

Ouch.

I was told stories about the sessions which featured dwarf strippers and golliwog dolls, uncomfortable casual racism and celebrity cameos.

This is the guy some on the left saw as a hero.

By almost any conventional measure, he failed. The New Zealand Herald called the album “a musical mess” in a one-star review, while Elsewhere.co.nz described it as “utterly sexless”. Sales weren’t helped by Dotcom giving the album away for free on his website, but remained mediocre. Good Timesdebuted at number 20 in the New Zealand album charts in late-January, peaked at 8 and dropped out of the top 40 in early-March. It sold about 1000 copies at JB Hi Fi according to an industry source, despite getting blanket advertising on stores’ front windows. The Warehouse didn’t sell many copies either.

The album cost a million or so to produce and flopped. I guess in music, like in politics, money isn’t enough.

It wasn’t for lack of promotion. Record company sources say Tucker spent at least $100,000 of Dotcom’s money on radio ads, a digital campaign and, most memorably, plastering the album’s awful cover on buses, bus stations and billboards.

That estimate may be low. A representative from iSite Media – the company that booked the bus advertising – says Dotcom took out ads on between 80 and 140 buses over a month-long campaign. Tucker may have got a better deal, but Auckland Transport says it costs about $200,000 to place ads on 80 buses for a month.

In any case, Dotcom’s promo budget was “far in excess” of what Universal spent marketing the launch of Lorde’s album Pure Heroine. Record companies rarely spend $100,000 on promotion, and if they do, it’s for a hit album and 80 percent of the bill is for TV advertising.

I recall seeing the adverts on lots of Wellington buses only.

An interesting comparison to what Universal spent on Lorde. She has tweeted:

And more:

The mainstream media was an even bigger problem, Tucker says. He claims there was collusion between record companies like Sony, Universal and Warner and radio stations to keep Dotcom off the air. Record execs called radio station bosses, asking them not to playlist Dotcom’s songs and threatening retribution if they did, he says. A friend, an insider in the industry, told Tucker that radio stations caved in to pressure. Dotcom wasn’t playlisted on ZM, The Edge or any major pop station.

The blacklist is bullshit, radio executives say. Leon Wratt, the content director for MediaWorks – owner of The Edge – says the station tried to test out Dotcom’s songs with audiences and received “95 percent” negative feedback.

I think I know which story is more likely.

Christian Boston, content director for 91ZM from 2000 to 2013, says the decision not to playlist Dotcom’s singles had nothing to do with record bosses or politics. His team at ZM thought the music was terrible, he says. “It just got a unanimous ‘No, it’s a crock of shit’, so we didn’t play it.”

And more delusion:

Tucker’s noisiest complaint is reserved for the Herald, which he claims is a mouthpiece for Dotcom’s enemies – John Key and the National government.

A mouthpiece? 81% of editorials and columns (that take a position on an issue) on National have been negative and 19% positive.

He says Good Times deserved more than the one star Chris Schulz gave it in TimeOut, the paper’s entertainment magazine.

“It’s just the journalists that always take the same cheap shots to sell that shitty publication,” he says. “The album was probably a three-and-a-half out of five.”

The review was more than fair, according to TimeOut editor Russell Baillie. “I can’t think of an album in the past year or so more deserving of a few cheap shots than Good Times. It was comedically awful and TimeOut didn’t exactly go out on a limb by saying that.”

What do they think happened? John Key got Tim Murphy to instruct the reviewer to give it one star?

Tags:

Delay delay delay

April 21st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of those sought for extradition alongside Kim Dotcom has turned up at a key hearing without a lawyer and the court told an application for legal aid has been made.

The old I no longer have a lawyer, so the hearing must be delayed trick.

At the High Court hearing, lawyers acting for three of the men including Dotcom said more time was needed to prepare for the extradition hearing currently listed to take place in June.

Grant Illingworth, QC, told the court the complex nature of the case required the extradition hearing to be put off again.

He said another factor was the lack of legal representation of Mr. Batato.

“Mr Batato is waiting on a legal aid application. He has no lawyer and won’t have one unless legal aid is granted.”

The charges were laid 40 months ago!!

Yes, 40 months.

More than enough time to get a lawyer, and prepare your legal arguments.

Dotcom has tried everything possible to delay the extradition hearing. There are at least 33 judicial decisions involving him. 23 in the High Court, seven at the Court of Appeal and three in the Supreme Court. has anyone in our legal history even had so many opportunities to litigate their case? There will also be some District Court cases on top of the 33 in the higher courts.

Tags:

Should Dotcom have residency cancelled for his driving conviction?

April 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has a tough decision to make.

He’s the man who’ll make the call whether to kick Kim Dotcom out of the country for lying about a dangerous driving conviction.

Thirty seven other people have been extradited for similar reasons.

Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge says the minister could look to those cases for precedent.

He says by lying about the incident, Dotcom has affected his ability to be trusted.

“Those are what goes to the heart of trust and confidence. At the very beginning of our relationship you (Dotcom) breached our trust and confidence by deceiving us.”

Bill Hodge says Mr Woodhouse needs to separate all the political turmoil around Dotcom from his decision.

I’d be interested in whether the 37 other cases were for similar convictions?

As Hodge says, the decision needs to ignore all the political stuff. Dotcom needs to be treated the same as if he was John Smith.

If the court rules the extradition request from the US is valid, then he should be extradited to stand trial.

But his failure to not declare his driving conviction should not be seen as a way to get around that process.

Not disclosing a conviction is a serious matter, but a driving conviction is different to say a violent or sexual conviction.

Tags:

Contradictory evidence in the Banks trial

March 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

John Banks is seeking to have a second trial for filing a false electoral return thrown out after the discovery of evidence which the Crown failed to disclose to his QC.

Not good for the Crown, if true.

This is at odds with evidence given at the trial, where the Crown contended the lunch was held on June 9, 2010 and the presence of the Americans was denied by the Dotcoms, as well as their bodyguard Wayne Tempero.

The defence was able to prove at the trial there was no lunch on June 9, because Mr Banks was campaigning and Mrs Banks was at work.

In finding Mr Banks guilty, Justice Edwin Wylie said Dotcom was a good witness but he was wrong about the date of the lunch and ruled it must have happened on June 5.

So Dotcom claimed the lunch was on 9 June, but the evidence was that this was not possible as Mrs Banks was at work, so they assumed it was 5 June.

But when interviewed by Mr Butler about the new affidavits before the Court of Appeal hearing, Dotcom accepted the evidence of the US businessmen – including that donations were not discussed at the June 5 lunch. Instead, he said there was a second lunch – again on June 9 – at which the donations were discussed.

You can’t have it both ways. If the lunch was on 5 June, then the Americans were there and their evidence is now accepted that no donations were discussed.

If there was a lunch on 9 June, then the evidence is that the Banks were not there.

“It has never been part of the crown case nor has there been any prior suggestion that there were two lunches within a matter of days of each other, at which both Mr and Mrs Banks were present,” wrote Mr Jones.

“How the Crown can now properly pursue this prosecution in the circumstances is unknown … the crown case will accordingly have to be completely recast in a way which, with respect, is utterly untenable.”

It does seem preposterous that there would have been two lunches within four days with Mr and Mrs Banks, and this was never mentioned at the original trial.

Tags: ,

No money for legal bills

March 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Internet giant Kim Dotcom still owes Simpson Grierson $2 million, the High Court at Auckland has heard. 

Considering that Dotcom has enough money to stick $4.5 million of it into the Internet Party, then it must be galling to Simpson Grierson that he says he can’t pay them.

He wants $200,000 per month for living expenses

That is almost $7,000 a day. Even five fulltime staff would only cost $1,000 a day.

Tags:

Mona Dotcom confirms Internet Party funding was to help with extradition

February 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The High Court in Auckland has also heard that Mona Dotcom was initially hesitant to donate money to the Internet Mana political party, at her husband’s suggestion, but eventually agreed the family trust would give $400,000. …

She believed Dotcom’s claims that his involvement with the Internet Mana party would eventually relieve the family of his threat of extradition, she said.  

This confirms what we all suspected but was denied by Dotcom.

The shame should fall on Laila Harre and Hone Harawira. They took millions from Dotcom to try and get into Parliament (or remain there), and must have known his motivation or quid pro quo was help with his extradition case. Dotcom’s wife confirms this is why he was doing it.

A multi-millionaire tried to buy his way out of extradition through a pet tame political party, and Hone, Laila and John Minto all lined up at the trough.

Hat Tip: Pete George

Tags: , ,

How significant is the guilty plea?

February 16th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Kim Dotcom’s long-running legal battle has suffered a blow after one of his co-accused pleaded guilty – and will now testify against his former colleagues.

In one of the biggest developments since Dotcom’s Coatesville compound was raided three years ago, computer programmer Andrus Nomm pleaded guilty to internet piracy in a Virginia court on Friday.

The 36-year-old struck a plea bargain deal with the US Justice Department, admitting he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files. Nomm will serve a year and a day behind bars. …

The US Department of Justice claims Nomm’s guilty plea was a major blow to Dotcom’s case. But that was last night rejected by his legal team. His attorney, Ira Rothken, told the Herald on Sunday the guilty plea did not serve as a precedent.

“If Mr Nomm testifies in a truthful manner … we expect that his testimony will help the defence.

I can’t imagine that there would be a plea deal, if the testimony would help the defence.

What will be interesting is whether it may affect the extradition hearing? Does the fact one person has pleaded guilty to the charges, make it harder for the NZ court to find that the charges are not valid? Remember the NZ court does not have to find likely guilt – just that the charges are valid, and would be an offence in NZ.

Tags:

Dotcom compares US to Nazis and him to their victims

January 6th, 2015 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

This was at the end of a series of tweets complaining about the Department of Justice seizing a car he gave to his mother, and freezing his assets  etc.

He complains there has been no trial, yet that is because he has done everything possible to stop the trial from occurring.

But considering Dotcom is known to have a signed copy of Mein Kamph, and has kept or worn other Nazi memorabilia, it is rather sickening to have him try and compare what has happened to him, to what the Nazis did to the Jews. And for good taste he points out Jews run Hollywood.

This is the guy Laila Harre and scores of others on the left were working for.

In the responses to his tweet, he has been heavily criticized by many people who said they used to support him.

Tags:

Dotcom says he wants to quit NZ

January 4th, 2015 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Embattled internet tycoon Kim Dotcom says he is now considered a pariah and is looking to quit New Zealand.

In an exclusive interview with theHerald on Sunday the Mega founder, who is facing internet piracy charges, says he is bearing the brunt of a vicious public backlash since September’s general election and now thinks his only option is to leave his adopted home.

He said he was renewing his offer to the Department of Justice to voluntarily travel to the US for his trial. But this was on the condition he was given bail and that assets seized in the 2012 Dotcom mansion raid are returned to him.

I doubt bail would be a problem, but I suspect return of the assets would be, as they are forfeit if he loses the case, and releasing them would possibly put them beyond the court’s control.

Dotcom was at a loss to explain why the tide of public opinion had turned so harshly against him.

“It’s turned into something very ugly,” he said. “Now I am a pariah.

“The funny thing is I haven’t changed and I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I’m still the same guy who only a matter of months ago people were cheering for.”

I blogged here on why opinion turned. I’m surprised he has not been able to work out why. The preposterous forged e-mail was the final nail in the coffin. Leading chants of FU John Key did not help, plus spending $4.5 million trying to change the Government.

Dotcom, who founded the Internet Party, which then forged a controversial and ultimately disastrous alliance with Hone Harawira’s Mana Party, said his political intentions were “pure”.

“The Internet Party stood for good for all New Zealanders. I thought I was doing people a favour and it backfired.”

Yeah, Right. You vowed to destroy the elected Governing Party, which around half the country support – and see this as good for all New Zealanders. It was utu.

Tags:

Is paying criminals not to hack a good idea?

December 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NDTV report on how Kim Dotcom stopped a denial of service attack on Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox by giving the hackers 3,000 lifetime vouchers for Mega’s premium service.

While the intention may have been just to be able to play his games (or to get some publicity painting him as a saviour) I think it is a bad precedent to reward hackers – ether for hacking, or for stopping hacking. Either way it incentivises them to do more hacking in future.

Also of interest is that Dotcom claims he is broke, and can’t afford anything – yet gave away 3,000 lifetime premium subscriptions to Mega.

An annual premium subscription is around 100 Euros so NZ$150. A lifetime one would probably be valued at around $2,000 using a modest discount rate. 3,000 x $2,000 is $6 million.

It’s tough being broke.

Tags:

Dotcom loses in Supreme Court

December 23rd, 2014 at 12:55 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

The police raids on internet mogul Kim Dotcom’s mansion were legal, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The court has upheld a Court of Appeal decision that while the search warrants could have been more precisely written they were legal.

The decision is here.

Of interest is once again the Chief Justice is in a minority of one – she voted in favour of the warrants being invalid, but the other four Supreme Court Justices disagreed.

Tags:

Mana planning to stand in 2017

December 10th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Yahoo News reports:

The Mana Movement is planning for the 2017 election and Kim Dotcom could be involved, leader Hone Harawira says.

That would be superb. Please make it so.

Tags: , ,

Dotcom will help Hillary get elected!

December 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will be “Hillary’s worst nightmare” as he revealed plans for a US version of the Internet Party.

Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the US where he is wanted on piracy charges took to Twitter today to announce the new political movement.

“The Internet Party is coming to the United States in 2015. Stay tuned for our celebrity founders from the music, film and Internet industry,” Dotcom posted.

Well the major impact of the Internet Party and Dotcom on the NZ election was to get the man he hates, John Key, re-elected Prime Minister with an increased number of MPs. So on that basis, Dotcom campaigning against Hillary Clinton, should secure her the presidency.

Minutes later he clarified that his role in the party would be limited.

“The Internet Party US will be well funded and run by American citizens. I will help with Public Relations ;-)”.

I think he should do a speaking tour in the US, to help them.

Tags: , , ,

Banks wins appeal

November 28th, 2014 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Former Act leader John Banks’ conviction for electoral fraud has been overturned and a new trial ordered by the Court of Appeal.

The retrial will hear the evidence from two new witnesses who were at a lunch with Banks and Kim Dotcom.

It seems their evidence is contradictory to the evidence of Mr Dotcom. Also as far as I know they have no vested interest in the outcome.

Mr Banks was convicted in the High Court after failing to disclose donations from Kim Dotcom to his Auckland Mayoralty campaign in 2010.

Mr Banks had appealed and introduced affidavits from two US-based businessmen who had been at the same lunch at which Mr Dotcom claimed donations were discussed.

The pair – David Schaeffer and Jeffery Karnes – both said donations were not discussed at that lunch.

In a statement, the Court of Appeal said it had decided to admit the evidence.

“Although it was not fresh evidence, the Court was satisfied that if the evidence has been before [High Court judge] Justice Wylie the outcome may have been different.

The two businessmen have no vested interest in the case. The fact both of them are adamant no donations were discussed is rather persuasive.

In the retrial (if it happens) Mr Dotcom’s evidence may be less persuasive after his month of truth fiasco where he released an obviously forged e-mail.

Tags: ,

Dotcom claims he is broke

November 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom says he is officially broke.

The German entrepreneur and failed politician has revealed this week that his three-year, $10 million legal fight against extradition to the US to face trial on an alleged conspiracy to commit the biggest-ever breach of copyright has seen him run out of cash.

I can only speak for myself, but if I was running out of cash, I wouldn’t spend $4.5 million on a pet political party.

Tags:

Harre quits Internet Party

November 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Laila Harre said on The Nation yesterday that she is quitting as Leader of the Internet Party, and is no longer on the payroll. Dotcom’s $4.5 million has all been spent it seems.

While saying they mismanaged the last month, she seems to have a long list of others to blame, namely:

  • Georgina Beyer
  • The media
  • Labour
  • Greens
  • The “right” attacking

A week after the election I blogged on why the Internet Party failed. What I put it down to was:

  • Dotcom’s motives were not trusted with the $4,5 milion he out into it
  • Laila was the wrong leader for it
  • The Fuck John Key video backfired massively
  • The Moment of Truth fiasco

The Herald on Sunday profiles Dotcom today.

Three years ago the mansion bustled with up to 50 employees but that is now believed to have dwindled to fewer than 10 people, including a butler, security men, kitchen staff and gardeners.

Having only 10 servants instead of 50. That must be very tough.

Tags: ,

The Dotcom legal team

November 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom will face tougher new bail conditions and make a daily visit to the police for at least the next week.

The restrictions – imposed yesterday by Judge Nevin Dawson – ban him from using a helicopter, travelling by boat or going more than 80km from his rented Coatesville mansion.

Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States, must also report daily to the Albany police station.

The new conditions are in place only until next Monday, when Dotcom will appear for a bail hearing in the Auckland District Court.

The restrictions follow Crown lawyer Christine Gordon yesterday making an allegation that the Herald is not permitted to publish.

Fascinating. It is unusual to have more stringent bail conditions applied. Normally, bail conditions lessen over time.

Before the issue of bail, Judge Dawson gave Dotcom’s former lawyers – Queen’s Counsel Paul Davison and firm Simpson Grierson – leave to withdraw from the case.

Simpson Grierson have not just withdrawn but deleted all mention of Dotcom from their website – including editing previous published newsletters.

Would be interesting to know why they withdrew? Have they not been paid? Or is it for professional reasons?

Mr Davison did not disclose to the court why he was stepping down and said the reasons were “private and confidential”.

Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler acted for Dotcom in court yesterday after the lawyers withdrew. Fletcher Pilditch, representing accused Finn Batato, was also given leave to withdraw as the lawyer for that defendant.

I suspect Graeme costs a bit less than a QC! But that may not be the reason.

We also might get a decision at some stage soon in the John Banks appeal, where allegedly new witnesses have contradicted the evidence given by Dotcom.

Tags:

Dotcom should not be deported for speeding

November 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Immigration NZ says it may need to consider whether it has to deport Kim Dotcom.

Officials were this morning making contact with the police to confirm a previously unknown dangerous driving conviction, revealed by the Herald today.

The conviction was not declared by Dotcom on his application for residency even though it came from a speeding incident just eight months before he made his application to live in New Zealand.

Applicants for residency are obliged to make a full disclosure of previous convictions and seek a “special direction” waiver.

Dotcom did so for a hacking conviction in 1994 and an insider trading conviction in 2001 – but there was no reference to the dangerous driving charge, to which he pleaded guilty on September 14, 2009.

He had been travelling at 149km/h in a 50km/h zone in Albany, on Auckland’s North Shore.

Travelling 99 km/hr over the speed limit is near homicidal, in a 50 km/hr area. I will sometimes drives in excess of the speed limit when I judge it safe to do so, but to drive at three times the speed limit is very very dangerous.

In the residency form, Dotcom signed in June 2010, there is a clear tick in the box declaring no dangerous driving conviction.

The Herald obtained details of the conviction from the North Shore District Court, where it was recorded under the name “Kim Schmitz”, the identity under which Dotcom was born.

Did he use his old name, to try and hide the conviction?

In a written statement, Immigration NZ admitted it had no idea Dotcom had a conviction for dangerous driving until it was told by the Herald.

The statement said Immigration NZ didn’t know because it never did a police check.

Well they should. But of course the onus is on the applicant to tell the truth.

The statement read: “Immigration New Zealand (INZ) can confirm that Kim Dotcom did not declare a dangerous driving conviction in New Zealand.

“Normally there is no requirement for a New Zealand Police check if an applicant has lived in New Zealand for less than 12 months at the time their residence application is lodged and there are no reasonable grounds to suspect the applicant has been charged with an offence in New Zealand.”

The statement said it did not check because “Mr Dotcom did not declare any convictions in New Zealand and had been living here for less than 12 months”.

As Dotcom has become such an unpopular figure, it is tempting to say that his failure to disclose his dangerous driving conviction should be used as grounds to rescind the residency decision.

But these decisions should not be based on popularity. If the non-disclosure was a genuine oversight, then the question should be would he have been declined residency in 2010, if it had been disclosed? I doubt, it would have affected the decision.

However if the non-disclosure was deliberate, and the use of his old name part of a strategy to conceal the conviction, then that would be grounds to review the residency decision.

So accidental non-disclosure of the dangerous driving conviction should not lead to the residency being cancelled. But a deliberate concealment could be grounds.

Tags: ,

Miller on Dotcom

October 9th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoffrey Miller at The Diplomat writes on The Downfall of Kim Dotcom:

Outwardly, Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party campaigned against mass surveillance and for free tertiary education and marijuana law reform. But by the end, New Zealand voters saw through the party – officially registered only in May this year – and deemed it a vanity project designed only to win Dotcom enough political support to hold the balance of power under the country’s proportional voting system and veto his extradition to the U.S. An unusual alliance with Mana, a leftist party advocating for the interests of New Zealand’s underprivileged indigenous Maori, seemed like a bold tactical move on paper, but was a disaster in practice. Dotcom’s flamboyant lifestyle and seemingly limitless cash ended up destroying Mana’s credibility of standing up for the downtrodden.

What’s amazing is none of the comrades to Mana still see the problem. At most they just think they needed to manage Dotcom better.

Dotcom led party-goers in a repeated chant against the country’s center-right prime minister, John Key. A video of the “f**k John Key” chant was uploaded to the official YouTube account for Internet Mana and widely circulated through social media. But many New Zealand voters appeared disgusted by the negative campaigning against an enormously popular incumbent.

Yep. That was a significant turning point.

The fact that no credible proof emerged at the “Moment of Truth” to support Dotcom’s much promised “big reveal” – which revolved around an outlandish conspiracy theory that New Zealand had granted him residency only to make it easier for the United States to extradite him – only added to voters’ impression that he was a charlatan.

In May, Kim Dotcom described his pet political party as his “gift to New Zealand.” On election night, he was forced to concede that his very brand had been toxic. For John Key, Dotcom turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. New Zealand voters’ loathing of Kim Dotcom and his tainting of the country’s left played no small part in delivering Key’s center-right National Party a landslide victory.

What we don’t know is if the damage to the left is short-term or long-term. But it has reduced the left’s presence in Parliament to just two parties.

Tags: ,

The rise and fall of Kim Dotcom

September 29th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A couple of years ago Kim Dotcom was a fairly popular person in New Zealand, and many people had sympathy for what had happened to him. How did he go from being reasonably popular, to arguably the most hated person in New Zealand politics? This post seeks to explore what happened.

I joked to someone that if the day before the election, that if two US Black Hawks had landed at his mansion and US Navy Seals jumped out and bundled him into a the choppers to take him to the US, and John Key held a press conference to announce he had personally authorised it even though his chief legal adviser Steven Joyce said it was “pretty illegal”, National would have got a 10% boost and get 60%.

That is an exaggeration, but National MPs and candidates I spoke to have all said that the most common topic of conversation in the last week was Kim Dotcom, and how members of the public would come up to them unsolicited and speak of how badly they want him not just out of NZ politics, but out of New Zealand.

But it was not once like this, so let’s go back to the beginning. Up until the raid on his mansion, 99.9% of New Zealanders had probably never heard of Kim Dotcom, including the Prime Minister.

The raids were like something out of a movie, with SWAT type teams in helicopters landing. It was, in my opinion, an over-reaction by the NZ authorities to the situation. Yes Dotcom had access to weapons, but he wasn’t Al Capone. Dotcom got sympathy from a fair number of people for the nature of the raid.

It also transpired that the Police did not get the paperwork right with aspects of the raid, and even worse the GCSB did not properly understand his immigration status and the law, and should not have been assisting the Police. This increased the sympathy for Dotcom.

And it should be said that the charges against him in the US are not a clear cut case. My belief is that Dotcom designed his business model to push the law to its limits, and to make money off copyrighted works – but he may not have broken US law. He may have gone over the boundary, but he may not have. It is an arguable case either way. A case that should be heard in court.

My feelings on Dotcom a couple of years ago were relatively benign. I thought the media were overly sycophantic to him, and that he was masterful at promoting a good public image. He made himself the victim. But I have always thought the US charges may not get a conviction, and that the Police were heavy handed (and slightly incompetent) in their handling of the case. So I wasn’t a fan boy, but I said at the time that if he went to the US and won the court case, then I’d welcome him back in New Zealand.

He was a celebrity. He appeared in plays with Jacinda Ardern. He got invited to open the Frankin Road lights. He got the soft treatment in women’s magazines and Campbell Live.

So where did it go wrong? How did he go from being the plucky popular underdog to the most reviled person in NZ? There were a number of reasons.

He became a politician

If Dotcom had not invented a conspiracy theory that Barack Obama and Joe Biden got John Key to let Dotcom into NZ, so he could be arrested an extradited, he would have stayed relatively popular. Rather than merely treating the USG as the enemy, and exposing the tendency of NZ law enforcement to be overly sycophantic to them, he decided to make John Key his personal target. He wanted to destroy John Key, and set up a political party to do so. He went from being an Internet entrepreneur to a politician.

Now to be fair to Dotcom, this was a very logical thing to do. I commented that I’d do the same if I was in his shoes, awaiting an extradition hearing and decision. A country extradites wanted criminals, not politicians. Turning yourself into a politician was in theory a politically smart thing to do – but it depended on what type of politician – a principled politician wanting better policies for NZ, or one seen to be utterly self seeking?

He lost his friends and his staff

Almost everyone close to Dotcom turned on him. He spent up large on himself, and his party, while claiming poverty with his staff, suppliers and friends. New Zealanders are quite egalitarian, and don’t like a guy who flies everywhere in a helicopter leaving small NZ businesses out of pocket for tens of thousands.

The number of former friends and colleagues who now hate him is huge. He managed to burn off goodwill faster than a forest fire.

They leaked to (mainly Whale Oil) various people stories, tapes and videos of Dotcom’s various inappropriate happenings.

He spent too much money trying to destroy Key

If he had only put $500,000 or $1,000,000 into his pet party, there may not have been such a reaction. But $4.5 million looked obscene, especially as it was tied to utu – not a belief in a particular set of policies being good for NZ. Yes Colin Craig put in a lot of money also to his party, but Craig’s motives were seen as upfront – wanting to become an MP and push a particular brand of policies – not revenge.

The alliance with Mana looked unprincipled

Dotcom used to donate to John Banks, one of the most right wing politicians in New Zealand. Mana is the most left wing party in NZ. Apart from a hatred of John Key, Dotcom and Mana were seen to have almost no policy commonality. It looked to most NZers that Dotcom purchased a tame political party, and Mana sold out their principles. Harre and Harawira would once have condemned a foreign born multi-millionaire criminal, whose staff alleged paid them below the minimum wage. But they took his money, and said nothing.

Recall that the Internet Party was meant to appeal to potential National voters, who didn’t think the Government was Internet friendly enough. The alliance killed off that possibility, and in fact drove those voters back to National.

Some on the left saw it as a great way to get the Internet Party into Parliament, and help defeat John Key. The smarter Labour MPs realised it would stink to high heaven, and we saw Chris Hipkins and Phil Goff wisely denounce it in no uncertain terms. They can hold their heads up high – their judgement was spot on. Labour members and activists who routinely denounce Hipkins, Goff and others might want to consider that if they had listened to them at the time, then Labour may not have ended up with such a disastrous level of vote. Cunliffe was far far too slow to distance himself from the Internet Mana Alliance. He should have ruled them out entirely, just as Key did with Peters in 2008.

Laila was the wrong leader

Laila would be a great Deputy Leader of the Mana Party. She is a staunch advocate for workers (except those who work for Dotcom) and unions. But she is no Internet Party Leader.

The Internet community already had mixed feelings on an Internet Party. Some were wary of Dotcom’s motivations, but still thought it was an exciting opportunity to have a party dedicated to Internet issues. If Dotcom has announced someone with real credibility on Internet issues such as ex TUANZ head Paul Brislen, then there would have been a real buzz of excitement.

The announcement of Harre as Leader created a fury with many in the Internet community. They felt that their issues were being hijacked for a cause that had nothing to do with the Internet. Some of those most vehement against the Internet Party were people who may have been potential supporters of it.

There were many good people involved in the Internet Party, such as CEO Vikram Kumar, who have a genuine passion for the Internet. But the leader is all important. Laila made a genuine effort to come up to speed on Internet issues, but the Internet community felt insulted by the use of the Internet’s name for a party led by someone who is not an Internet native and didn’t even know the name of her own ISP.

The Fuck John Key video

This was not a selfie video by someone in the audience. Dotcom, or someone working for him, thought it would be a great idea to stick a video of Dotcom leading a group of fans chanting Fuck John Key. They turned it into a party advertisement, put an authorisation statement on it, and promoted it.

This was a key point, when people really started to get determined to not let him succeed. We’re a fairly polite country. Seeing the German guy facing extradition reveling in the crowd chanting obscenities at the country’s Prime Minister offended huge numbers of New Zealanders, including many swinging voters. Even worse, Harre wouldn’t apologise for it. For National, this video was gold. For Labour, they should have denounced it more strongly and used it as an opportunity to say they would have nothing to do with the Internet Mana Alliance.

The problem Dotcom had at this point is he was purely surrounded by people who hate John Key. Everyone in his circle would have loved the video. They would have had no idea how it played out with middle NZ – who decide elections.

The hacking

Dotcom may or may not have been involved in the hacking, but he was boasting to people about it, his staff were boasting about it, he made a speech boasting of how he hacked the German PM, and of course many NZers thought he was involved. And most voters don’t like it. They think dirty politics is hacking, stealing and spying – not talking to bloggers..

The Moment of Truth

A lot has been written about this before, but there were six things which did Dotcom in.

  1. His two years of assurances he had proof beyond any doubt the PM had lied. He claimed this dozens of times. He even had the privilege of appearing face to face against the PM at a committee meeting, and taunting him with it to his face. He did not just claim he has suspicions – he was adamant he had proof.
  2. The timing of the event pissed people off. His brains trust thought having the week of the election would get the biggest impact. New Zealanders though have common sense and saw it as an attempt to make allegations, without the time to have them fully considered. he should have held it three months before the election – as should have Hager.
  3. The farcical forged e-mail. A retarded five year old could have made a more convincing forgery.
  4. The failure to talk about the e-mail at all, at an event he had spent over a year promoting as the moment when he would reveal the proof
  5. His maniacal laughing throughout the meeting, as if he was Dr Evil in Austen Powers. I suggested National use the footage as their campaign closing.
  6. The combination of a German and three Americans lecturing NZers on their politics in their heavy accents, shrieked foreigners trying to influence the NZ election result

This combined into the biggest farce and own goal I think I have seen in New Zealand politics.

The anger

When I wrote the next morning that it is time to get angry, I had more positive feedback on that post than any other I can recall. It got shared widely on social media, and I got scores of texts and phone calls. People were angry. Everywhere MPs went, they met angry people – angry at Dotcom. They wanted him out of politics, and were determined to vote to stop him having influence on the next Government. The CTU spent $200,000+ on trying to get union members our to vote (obviously for Labour/Greens/Mana). Dotcom’s Moment of Truth cost National not one cent and galvanised their supporters to the polling booths.

 

So it wasn’t one thing, but a series of bad calls that did Dotcom in. He may blame it on the last two weeks, but it was well over a year’s worth of misjudgements. If he had not invented his conspiracy theory involving John Key, and kept the focus on his ill treatment by sections of the NZ authorities – he would have maintained considerable public support and appeal. If his party had been a genuine Internet Party that sought more than the destruction of National at any cost, then it could have done quite well.

But he surrounded himself by people who hate John Key, and cut himself off from reality. He had no idea at all how the public of New Zealand were starting to regard him as a cancer that needed chemotherapy, rather than the plucky underdog he once was.

There’s a lesson in that for more than Dotcom.

Tags: , , ,

Fran on Dotcom

September 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

On Twitter: Must read: Fran O’Sullivan reports from inside John Key’s rectum and gets trashed by reader comments. EPIC FAIL :)

That was Dotcom at his most charming.

A day later, I was tempted to respond (also via Twitter) to Mr Kim Dotcom and point out that the less than 30 reader comments trashing my column saying that Dotcom’s “Moment of Truth” extravaganza was an ABJECT FAIL, was a mere drop in the bucket compared with the number of voters who contributed to the Internet-Mana wipeout on election night.

But Dotcom admitted he had poisoned the Internet-Mana brand himself.

What Dotcom’s little eruption did prove (like with the gratuitous “Sweet old lady, you’re cute” tweet he sent my way earlier on when I wrote a Herald column spelling out that content providers – like myself – don’t like having their copyright abused) is that this supposed two-fisted fighter for truth can’t take it if he meets up with other than journalistic adoration for his swash-buckling endeavours.

He’s been less vocal on Twitter since last weekend.

Then yesterday there was the Internet-Mana’s incontinent press officer Pam Corkery yet again bleating about the “puffed-up little shits” of telly land in a long-winded justification of her failure to exercise personal discipline at the party’s launch.

I like Pam. I cut my teeth in the private radio era of the early 1980s when the late Paul Holmes held sway on Radio Windy and Pam and a whole host of journalists who then went on to develop strong personal brands on the radio were starting off.

But instead of the inside story of what really went down in the Internet Mana soup which we all know Corkery is capable of providing, all we got was more deflection over the party’s disastrous defeat.

The upshot was that Hone Harawira failed to win Te Tai Tokerau, and Internet Mana finished on just over 1.2 per cent, well short of the 5 per cent needed to put an MP into Parliament.

The Prime Minister they tried to “take down” is back in the Beehive. Voters saw through the puppet-master and his well-paid politicians.

I have a lengthy post on Monday about what went wrong with Dotcom and Internet Mana.

Tags: ,

McLeod on the election

September 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Rosemary McLeod writes:

The big guy’s not wrong when he admits he was toxic for the Internet-Mana Party. Actually he’s toxic for New Zealand. We don’t admire personal feuds and personalised attacks on this scale in our part of the world, and to tag it on to a general election was too much.

Dotcom’s squeals of pleasure, as his tame speakers attacked John Key, would have turned many stomachs, not just mine. They knew nothing about Key that could justify their attack on his character, and the only good thing about their display of viciousness ended up being that it perversely gave a landslide victory to Key at the end of the most bizarre campaign I can remember.

Who would have thought Harre and that martyr of all Left-wing causes, John Minto, would be enticed by big bucks? Was that how truly principled paragons of the Left should behave? Dotcom has looked and behaved like the epitome of the kind of fat cat they would normally deplore, throwing his money around, but that very money had them mesmerised.

They threw away their credibility, and it can hardly have been worth it.

A sadder case is Hone Harawira, who threw away his ability to advocate in Parliament for issues he genuinely believes in. Did he think Maori voters would follow him blindly?

They were too intelligent for that.

Hone and Laila were genuine principled advocates for their beliefs. And then they sold out. They took the money, and aligned themselves with a rich criminal’s jihad against John Key, as they thought it would get them into power. The former staunch unionists had not a word to say about the allegations of his former staff who claimed Dotcom paid them $5 an hour only.

Even the sainted Nicky Hager, who the overseas speakers lauded for his series of indignant publications, is tainted by the campaign waged against Key. It was a cynical and calculated gesture to publish his book so close to an election, hoping to derail National’s predicted chances. He managed to knock Judith Collins out of the running, and WhaleOil will never look so beguiling again, but he doesn’t look any cleaner for it. When you’re praised by the kind of crowd that whooped and hollered in the Auckland Town Hall you’re not in classy company. At least he had the good sense not to be present.

Both Hager and Dotcom made the same mistake – doing their attacks during the election campaign. New Zealanders don’t like gotcha politics like that. Any serious issues they had would have been far more effectively considered if they had released them three to six months before the election.

And for those who are about to attack McLeod as being a cheerleader for National:

I voted Labour – out of nostalgia, though I knew it would fare badly. …

And for the record, I’ve never voted National in my life.

And I suspect never will.

Tags: ,

3rd Degree on Kim Dotcom and his staff

September 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

It should have aired months ago, but better late than never.

3rd degree interviewed three former staff of Kim Dotcom’s. The programme revealed testimony from former staff which included:

  • Dotom constantly referred to New Zealanders as cheap ass farmers
  • Dotcom hates John Key (no surprise that one)
  • The three staff have claimed they are owed $367,000 in wages
  • Dotcom has an explosive temper and would yell at them
  • Staff worked a minimum 16 hours a day, and one staffer worked for two days straight attending Dotcom as he played video games
  • Staff worked on average 90 hours a week and got paid an average of $5 an hour – almost a third of the legal minimum wage
  • Staff rarely had a day off
  • One staffer was sacked for questioning his pay
  • Dotcom has refused to supply a certificate of employment to his former staff
  • They only got around a third of their backpay as Dotcom said he needed to deduct tax. This suggests he may not initially have been deducting tax as required, but also suggests he has deducted it at a higher rate than he should have

Dotcom in response said:

  • admitted he sometimes yells at his staff
  • says it is acceptable to yell at his staff when they make serious mistakes
  • says he is like their family father, and it is like when your child does something stupid
  • He cares for them, and they are like family to him
  • He never gave written warnings before dismissals
  • says he loves New Zealanders
  • says in regard to his staff “We’re all on a first name basis, they call me Sir”

So where is Helen Kelly and the CTU? Where are the unionists in Labour and the Greens? Where is that champion of worker’s rights – Laila Harre? They’re all silent on this, because Dotcom and his party is their route to power.  Imagine Dotcom had given $4 million to the ACT Party? They would be insisting that he be charged with breaching labour laws, putting out press releases non stop.

So the next time the CTU and the parties of the left go on about workers, ask them why they were silent on Dotcom’s alleged employment abuses. While this story only went to air this week, the allegations have been well known for months.

Dotcom has enough money to give $4 million to Laila Harre and Hone Harawira to help get them into Parliament. But not enough money to pay more than $5 an hour to his staff, according to them.

Tags: ,