Kim Dotcom interview

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Kim Dotcom last night told “60 Minutes” that the Feds went after him because he was the “perfect villain” in a Bond movieI was inspired by the James Bond movies, you know? Where, you know, some characters had private islands and super tankers converted into yachts and space stations and underwater homes.”

Kim Dotcom told Bob Simon that he was an easy and attractive target because of his flamboyant lifestyle and his German nationality. The logic of that last one eludes me a little bit. Kim said that he was just a businessman and seemed to feel that he was being persecuted. As an example he gave the SWAT-like raid of his New Zealand estate when he was first arrested.

There are a couple of points to make based on my background as both an attorney and as a former investigative journalist. Prosecutors and journalists don’t go after you because of a flamboyant lifestyle (unless they’re correspondents for Entertainment Tonight). A flamboyant lifestyle does call attention to yourself. It does lead people to wonder how you got all of the money and to ask questions. If you act like a James Bond villain, maybe you are a James Bond villain.

It’s also important to realize that prosecutors don’t like to have the fruits of alleged illegalities waved under their noses. To mix a metaphor, it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Yes, I would say that a prosecutor or investigative journalist is more like to come hard after an alleged wrongdoer if he or she buys yachts, estates and luxury cars. It’s more likely to happen than if the alleged criminal socks it away in a mattress. It’s called taunting. Again, keep in mind that they’re not coming after a wealthy target because he or she is rich. There are plenty of wealthy people out there. They’re coming after them because they have attracted attention to criminal acts and flaunted it.

The investigation and arrest was ultimately based on a whole lot more than lifestyle. Despite Kim Dotcom’s protestations of innocence and ignorance, federal prosecutors seem to have amassed quite a quantity of emails indicating that he knew exactly what he was doing as the founder and leader of file sharer Megaupload. Presenting some of that during the “60 Minutes” piece would have gone a long way toward taking some of the air out of Kim Dotcom’s protestations.

And what about the SWAT team. Kim Dotcom raises the issue that the raid was all for show ala James Bond. The real reason for the expanded scope of the raid is somewhat more mundane. In the course of the story alone we were treated to numerous images of Kim Dotcom holding and posing with automatic weapons. Law enforcement had no idea of where he was on the sprawling estate, and when he in fact was found, he was holed up with a shotgun. Add to that the fact that Kim Dotcome employs a director of security overseeing who knows what, and a raid of that scale may have been warranted. Keep in mind that this also happened in New Zealand where the police deal with violent crime on a less frequent basis than say New York, Chicago and LA.

The final irony is that here we have Kim Dotcom, a self-imagined James Bond villain who actually complains that he was treated like a James Bond villain. He was prosecuted not because he looked like a James Bond villain, but because he allegedly acted like one.   As the saying goes, you reap what you sow.

 

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