Auckland arrests were part of US Justice Dept operation; cars and money seized

News from NZ Police
The four arrests in the Auckland area yesterday are part of an operation led by the US Department of Justice targeting large scale criminal copyright infringement and money laundering around the world.

The arrests, carried out by the Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) and New Zealand Police, follow a mutual legal assistance request from the United States to arrest of individuals for the purpose of extradition.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a group of people who are alleged to be engaged in and facilitating criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale.

The group, known as the “Mega Conspiracy” allegedly operates Megaupload.com, an Internet website that offers file hosting and distribution services. This site has been accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of reproducing and distributing infringing copies of all types of copyrighted works, including movies, television programmes, music, software and books.

The estimated harm to copyright holders is believed to be more than US$500 million.

The four people were arrested at addresses in Coatsville and Orakei. A total of 10 search warrants were executed at residential and business addresses across Auckland.

Those arrested have German, Dutch and Finnish citizenship. Some are resident in New Zealand.

All appeared in the North Shore District Court this afternoon.

Assets have been seized including luxury cars with an estimated total value of up to NZ$6m. These include a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe valued at over NZ$500,000. Over NZ$10m has also been seized from NZ financial institutions. These have been secured by New Zealand’s Official Assignee pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ says the arrests were the result of several months coordination with the FBI and US Department of Justice:

“The FBI contacted New Zealand Police in early 2011 with a request to assist with their investigation into the Mega Conspiracy.” said Mr Wormald.

“We were happy to provide this assistance. Staff from OFCANZ and New Zealand Police have worked with the US authorities over recent months to effect today’s successful operation.

“All the accused have been indicted in the United States. We will continue to work with the US authorities to assist with the extradition proceedings.” said Mr Wormald.

 

5 comments:

  1. jesse, 20. January 2012, 15:42

    Its a sad day to see New Zealand bend over for the sickening obviously trumped up charges farted out by the US so called justice system, a system that is willing to suspend all rights and bend over for the whims of big business.

    I wonder if the losses claimed are estimated using the same formula they used to claim that a mother who downloaded 25 songs should be sued for 1.5 million in damages a few years ago.

     
  2. Phil C, 21. January 2012, 2:43

    The IP lobby is indeed a sinister force with lengthy tentacles.

    I have not seen comprehensive research that actually substantiates these alleged “losses”. The figures given assume that (i) the upload/dowload stats are accurate and (ii) those who downloaded the content would have purchased it if a download had not been available.

    The MPAA and its ilk are desperately trying to preseve an antiquated business model that allowed them extraordinary profits. Content owners have not had an incentive to embrace new methods of distributing content and at a price people will pay. No matter how much the IP stormtroopers clog the courts, prosecute teenagers, cut off Internet access and twist the arms of government, they will ultimately lose this battle as they cannot control technological developments. Speak to many teens now and they are very familiar with proxies and other methods of hiding your on-line presence. As always, the IP crowd are years behind the times and creating a situation where we will all pay more for less reliable Internet access (as packets are inspected and ISPs spend billions on compliance staff), vast chunks of the web disappears on the say-so of an IP owner and ultimately the world becomes a less creative and more fearful place. What else should we expect from those corporate beasts that commercialise and commodify creativity?

    I’m just waiting for backbone carriers to join with Google, Wiki etc and give two fingers to those who expect them to monitor content.

     
  3. lyingcheat, 22. January 2012, 12:06

    Dutch and German citizens arrested in NZ on the strength of what look like inflated and largely unsupportable allegations by Americans?
    Whether or not the charges stand, the business these guys ran has been damaged.

    Since when did crackpot American interpretations of ‘intellectual property’ and rabidly self favouring interpretations of ‘copyright’ apply in NZ?

    The NZ authorities shold have told the USA to go **** themselves.

    SOPA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act
    PIPA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Wikipedia_blackout#Wikimedia_community

     
  4. Rolf, 29. January 2012, 8:59

    A sad and dark day for New Zealand.
    David Lange would be spinning in his grave

     
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