Hong Kong customs seize 42 million US dollars in Megaupload raids
Jan 21, 2012, 10:32 GMT
Hong Kong - Customs offices in Hong Kong have raided offices and luxury residences across the city and seized alleged crime proceeds worth 42 million US dollars as part of the worldwide investigation into file-sharing site Megaupload, officials said Saturday.
Around 100 officers took part in the raids on Friday targeting four locations, which included offices and luxury hotel rooms.
In a statement, Hong Kong Customs said the hotel suites, which cost 100,000 Hong Kong dollars a day (12,000 US dollars), were being used as offices for a 'transnational syndicate' operating a cyberlocker - an internet storage site for digital files used for file-sharing.
They were equipped with large-scale high-speed servers and TV screens suspected to be connected with the case.
A number of people have been questioned and assets worth 330 million Hong Kong dollars have been frozen, read the statement.
Megaupload's website, which allows subscribers to download music, films and other digital files, was shut down Thursday by US authorities, who accuse it of being behind one of the largest cases of copyright theft ever.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, is being held in New Zealand following a police raid there.
The 37-year-old German, who has New Zealand and Hong Kong residency, was denied bail with three other men on Friday when they appeared in court in Auckland. They are due back in court Monday.
Raids by New Zealand police resulted in the seizure of luxury cars worth 4.8 million US dollars from Dotcom's luxury home. These included a pink Cadillac and a Rolls Royce Phantom.
Dotcom is listed as the director of 10 Hong Kong limited companies, including Megaupload Ltd, which were all registered between 2002 and 2006, according to the government's Companies' Registry.
News reports claim Dotcom split his time between Hong Kong and Auckland, living an equally lavish lifestyle in each.
His home in Hong Kong was a luxury penthouse at the five-star Grand Hyatt where he lived with his wife, a former model from the Philippines, and his three children.
The South China Morning Post said he held lavish parties for his children and his staff included an entourage of drivers, bodyguards, chefs on call 24-hours a day, and four nannies.
The statement by Hong Kong Customs said officers from various departments had been conducting a joint investigation with the FBI since the end of 2010.
The alleged syndicate's main servers were located in the US, with a network of devices and servers in different jurisdictions, while registered companies and bank transactions were in Hong Kong, it said.
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