A paperwork mistake by police has freed up $17.8 million of MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom's frozen assets, including $6.8 million in cash that could put him back on the list as a flight risk. Dotcom won his freedom from a New Zealand jail in February because the money he might have used to flee police had been seized. But thanks to a police procedural mistake, a judge there declared the seizure order was "null and void." As the New Zealand Herald reported on Sunday, a judge has declared the order had "no legal effect," and Police commissioner Peter Marshal acknowledged police made a mistake while applying for the search order. Per the Herald's David Fisher:
[Judge Judith] Potter said Marshall's application for the restraining order had 'confused' legal moves by opting for one in which Dotcom was not given a chance to mount a defence. It meant Marshall applied for the 'incorrect order'. Potter said he had sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized." Now Potter's expected to rule on whether authorities should reinstate Dotcom's cars, money, and other property seized in the raid.
But Dotcom's recent poverty has been the very thing keeping him on house arrest and out of jail after he won bail about a month ago. Reuters' Gyles Beckford reported in February:
Judge Nevin Dawson Wednesday reasoned that bail could be awarded, given that there was no new evidence that Dotcom had undisclosed funds he could use to aid in a flight from justice.
He said prosecutors had been unable to find any new funds or assets that had not already been seized, and prosecution claims that he was a wealthy man was not sufficient reason to hold him.
Now Dotcom may actually become a wealthy man once more, and it stands to reason he'll be seen as more of a flight risk -- but so far none of the most recent reports say he'll face a return to jail. Yet.