MEGAUPLOAD EXEC TO APPEAR IN COURT JAN 23
- Kim Dotcom, the man atop what federal prosecutors allege is a $175 million worldwide Internet piracy operation, passed his 38th birthday this weekend in a New Zealand jail awaiting a court appearance today, Jan 23, on charges prosecutors brought from a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Virginia, according to USA Today.
Dotcom, whose original name was Kim Schmitz, has a record as a criminal hacker and a penchant for flaunting his wealth.
A 72-page indictment charges him and other officers of his Megaupload empire with racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.
Megaupload's file-sharing websites were shut down last week. The indictment alleges that the company facilitated illegal downloads of copyright movies, music, TV shows and other content. It says the worldwide operation took in $175 million, most of it in subscription fees paid, often via PayPal, by members who gained access to downloads. It alleges the company paid cash to people who uploaded large amounts of copyright-protected content.
Dotcom's $23 million home north of Auckland is considered New Zealand's most expensive residence, and until it was raided, he enjoyed a playboy lifestyle. Authorities seized 18 vehicles, including a 2010 Maserati convertible, a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead coupe, half a dozen high-end Mercedes AMG models, a 1959 Cadillac convertible and a Von Dutch Kustom motorcycle. Affixed to the flashy cars were eye-catching vanity license plates. Among them: "EVIL," "GOOD," "GOD," "STONED," "CEO," "MAFIA," "HACKER" and "GUILTY."
His operation was massive: 180 million registered users, 50 million daily Web visits, and at one point, it accounted for 4% of all Internet traffic, prosecutors allege.
- 1861 Birth of the Hungarian-Armenian linguist and philologist, Ghookass Badroopanyan.
- 1904 Birth of the Armenian-Italian physician, Professor, Michael Arlen, son of the famous doctor Yervand Arlen. Michael Arlen was a Full Member of the British Medical Association.
- 1921 The ceremonial opening of Yerevan's People's University. In 1923 it was renamed Yerevan State University.
- 1923 Birth of Karp Khachvankyan (actor) in Akhaltskha (Georgia). He was known as the "Prince of Laughter". He died in 1998.