By Roger Childs
New Zealand Personality of the Year: Kim Dotcom
John Key is a political zombie… When the court hearings take place, it is game over for him. Kim Dotcom November 2013
A household name
Since he gained residency in New Zealand late in 2010, he has become a household name and a cartoonist’s dream, and regularly features in the media. There is a lot humour about the smiling German in what Metro calls “Dotcomedy”.
However there are serious issues yet to be resolved for the big man, related to the future, his business interests and place of residence. Fortunately for him he can afford the best lawyers.
Dotcom’s anonymous donation of $50,000 to the John Banks Auckland mayoral campaign and the infamous raid on his mansion occurred in 2010 and 2012 respectively. However the consequences of these events, and other developments in 2013, qualify him for KIN’s prestigious award of New Zealand Personality of the Year.
A criminal past no barrier to residency
Born in 1974, Kim Schmidt was a keen hacker from an early age and the illegal use of his internet skills brought him before the courts.
- 1994: trafficking in stolen phone cards
- 1998: computer fraud and espionage
- 2002: investment fraud
- 2002: share price manipulation.
On the basis of this record, it is amazing that Kim Dotcom (the surname name was officially changed in 2005) was given New Zealand residency in November 2010. Dotcom was a multi-millionaire and obviously money smoothed the path.
Auckland mayoral candidate, John Banks, promised to help, but there was a price. The government may also have had its own motives for letting Billy Big Steps live in the country.
The big German wasted little time demonstrating his generosity and spent $500,000 on the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Auckland.
There would be fireworks of a different sort in 2012 and these would have on-going ramifications in 2013.
Key’s cops look very foolish
The ridiculous and unwarranted raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion north of Auckland and the arrest of the German and some of his colleagues is well known. It looked like a badly organised operation against a terrorist organisation in a B grade, Hollywood farce.
It showed how the National Government quickly, and often impulsively, reacts to instructions from America. Thank goodness our independent judiciary rejected the case for the raid, arrests and seizures.
In September 2012, it resulted in an incredible back-down by the prime minister, acknowledging the mistakes made by the GCSB and the police: Of course I apologize to Mr Dotcom and I apologise to all New Zealanders.
However the story continued into 2013: a key reason why the charismatic German is KIN’s New Zealand Personality of the Year.
The influential Kim Dotcom in 2013
I’m just honest. I’m telling it how it is. Kim Dotcom November 2013. You better believe it!
During 2013 he did plenty to get in the news and to ensure that he won’t be forgotten in 2014!
- launched a new encrypted storage site: mega.co.nz
- faced on-going attempts by the FBI to extradite him to the USA
- filed a $6 million compensation claim against the police and GCSB
- started the process of organising a political party
- offered to help sponsor Team New Zealand in its next bid for the America’s Cup
- confronted a shifty John Key on when he knew about the spying. Why are you turning red , prime minister?
- responded positively to a private prosecution against John Banks, related to his knowledge of Dotcom’s $50,000 donation to the mayoral campaign. This led to the MP being committed for trial with the Solicitor General ominously taking over the case
- made many popular public appearances, such as being in a debate to raise money for the Michael King Writers’ Centre and acting as a disc jockey at the Gisborne New Year’s Rhythm and Vines Festival
- started coordinating work on a new online music service called Baboom. More than twenty software engineers are involved.
- featured in a book: The Secret Life of Kim Dotcom by New Zealand Herald journalist, David Fisher.
He will continue to be in the news this year. There are at least three court proceedings involving Kim Dotcom
- The on-going American case, spearheaded by the FBI, to get him extradited
- John Banks’s trial on the infamous anonymous donations from Kim Dotcom and Sky City
- His own case for compensation against New Zealand authorities related to the raid.
Don’t underestimate the big man
I asked a bright teenager about him and Hudson responded that Dotcom is a cool guy and a bit of a joker. He also commented that people underestimate him at their peril, because he looks like a German backpacker and people think they can pull the wool over his eyes.
Hudson also observed that Kim Dotcom has a lot of power and it will be interesting to see how he uses it in 2014. A shrewd operator, he uses the media very skilfully and has superb technological skills. He is definitely not a man to be trifled with.
He has his detractors who say he’s a crook and a shameless showman who manipulates the media, but for many Kiwis he is the smiley-faced, good German who has put plenty of money, time and effort back into the community.
In 2013 he added a lot of colour to the rich fabric of New Zealand society, and there is more to come.
Aged 20, he survived when his Mercedes crashed on an autobahn doing 250kph. His reaction? “Dude, I’m going to live life to the fullest.”
And, we say, he certainly is!