Kim Dotcom (far right) (Credit: 3News.co.nz/Screenshot by Jonathan Skillings/CNET)
Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand-based internet millionaire who founded Megaupload and is now at the center of what is billed as the world's biggest copyright case, was denied bail Wednesday.
Dotcom, 38, has been held in custody since armed police swooped in on his luxury $30 million Coatesville mansion on Friday.
Now the German-born businessman will be held behind bars until February 22 on charges of copyright, money laundering and conspiracy.
The FBI is seeking to extradite Dotcom to the United States, claiming that his Megaupload activities have caused US$500 million "harm" to copyright interests.
On Monday, in the North Shore District Court in Auckland, Judge David McNaughton reserved judgment on a bail application, citing the extent of the allegations and investigations. Wednesday, McNaughton agreed with prosecution claims that Dotcom presented a flight risk, a claim denied by the defense.
"With significant determination and financial resources, flight risk remains a real and significant possibility which I cannot discount and bail is declined," McNaughton concluded in a 20-page statement issued shortly before noon New Zealand time.
The judge said it was impossible for him to determine how the extradition proceedings would go, but he noted the "less serious" copyright charges carried a maximum five-year jail term, as opposed to the maximum 20-year racketeering and money-laundering charges the US authorities allege and seek.
In his findings, the judge also noted how Dotcom possessed an unregistered firearm, suggesting links to criminal elements, which could lead to them helping with an escape.
Dotcom also had access to bank accounts, including 23 in Hong Kong, 15 with DBS Bank and eight with Citibank exceeding US$8 million under various aliases.
For more on this story, read Megaupload founder denied bail on ZDNet Australia.