New Zealand Police officials said that the recent arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom ((Born Kim Schmitz) in Auckland was the result of a high-profile operation involving several months of planning.
Kim Dotcom and three others were arrested in January as a part of a global operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) targeting alleged large-scale criminal copyright infringement and money laundering around the world.
The arrests, carried out by the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) and New Zealand Police, followed a mutual legal assistance request from the US Department of Justice to arrest individuals for the purpose of extradition.
Assistant Commissioner (Investigations-International) Malcolm Burgess aid the assistance procedure is used internationally by law enforcement agencies to facilitate investigations into transnational crime.
“A reciprocal arrangement means we can also use it to gather evidence when we investigate actions off-shore by individuals or entities who offend against New Zealand law.”
Termination phases were simultaneously carried out in nine countries including New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, UK and US.
OFCANZ Taskforce Leader Detective Inspector Grant Wormald said that although FBI led the global investigation, it adopted the ‘hands-off’ approach in New Zealand since the agency does not have jurisdiction to conduct investigations in this country.
“Our police have a good reputation for being competent and capable. This operation reinforced our long-standing relationships with international law enforcement agencies,” he said.
An OFCANZ team of five picked up the case last September and worked intently to meet their goal of a mid-January termination.
“The level of commitment shown by the OFCANZ investigative team was outstanding. We also benefitted from input by staff from several specialist groups who contributed their expertise before and during the termination phase.”
Ten search warrants were executed at addresses across Auckland and equipment including computers and documents were seized for evidential purposes. Luxury vehicles were restrained by the Official Assignee, along with artwork, electronic equipment and up to $11 million in cash.
Detective Superintendent Mike Pannett, New Zealand Police Liaison Officer in Washington, monitored termination activities around the world from the FBI’s Multi Agency Command Centre.
“Feedback on the New Zealand operation has been extremely positive from our international law enforcement partners including the FBI and US Department of Justice,” he said.
Source: New Zealand Police