March 25, 2014 - 14:42 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A company founded by Kim Dotcom, one of the world's most wanted cyber fugitives, while on bail is set to be listed on the New Zealand stock exchange valued at NZ$210mln ($179mln), the Guardian reports.
The Megaupload founder, who also goes by the name Kim Schmitz, is fighting a bid by U.S. authorities to extradite him from New Zealand to face online piracy charges over the now-closed file-sharing site Megaupload.
The New Zealand government arrested Dotcom in early 2012 at his mansion near Auckland in a Swat-style raid requested by the FBI. Dotcom is free on bail as he fights extradition although his movements are restricted.
After a reverse takeover deal was announced between Mega Ltd, Dotcom's cloud storage firm, and local investment firm TRS, Dotcom tweeted: "Indicted. Raided. On Bail. All assets frozen without trial. But we don't cry ourselves to sleep. We built Mega from 0 into a $210m company."
TRS said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange it had a conditional agreement to buy Mega through a share issue to Mega's shareholders.
Mega, launched in 2013 by Dotcom and several other people involved in Megaupload, offers encrypted, cloud-based data storage and claims about 7 million registered users.
New Zealand company records show Mega's shareholders include Dotcom's wife, through a trust, with a 26% stake. Dotcom is not listed as a shareholder nor a director, but on the Mega website he is named as principal strategist. The chief executive of Mega Ltd, Stephen Hall, said Mega had planned to list but had chosen the back-door route because it was cost-effective and efficient, adding there was no concern it would get embroiled in Dotcom's extradition battle.
"We don't think so. This has nothing to do with Megaupload, it's a completely separate legal entity, it's not a worry," Hall told Reuters.
He and three colleagues from Megaupload were arrested in 2012 on U.S. charges of online piracy, money-laundering and racketeering.
The four men have been battling New Zealand and U.S. federal authorities through the courts since over access to funds, admissibility and disclosure of evidence, and the legality of search warrants. An extradition hearing is scheduled for July.
U.S. authorities allege Megaupload cost film studios and record companies more than $500mln and generated more than $175mln by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.
Dotcom claims Megaupload was merely an online warehouse and should not be held accountable if stored content was obtained illegally.