Kim Dotcom, friend of freedom and innovation, has been entangled in court drama ever since his house was raided in New Zealand.  It should be noted that Kim Dotcom is not American, did not operate in the US and did not live in the US… but somehow the US government has deemed that he had broken one of their half-a-billion “laws” and sent in the valiant US military in Blackhawk helicopters to abscond with his property.  All of this because he operated an innovative website which allowed people to share information.

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During the raid, the United States government stole $67 million worth of assets, including cash, property, luxury cars, jet skis, large screen televisions and art. 

Dotcom told the Herald on Sunday yesterday that he had not had a fair trial and lamented the “sad state” of the “United States justice system.” Though, considering it is truly an Injustice System, it is functioning quite perfectly.

“By labelling me a fugitive the US court has allowed the US government to legally steal all of my assets without any trial, without any due process, without any test of the merits. The asset forfeiture was a default judgement. I was disentitled to defend myself.”

Dotcom had a crash course in the US court system. 

“First the US judge ruled that I can’t mount any defense in the asset forfeiture case because according to him I’m a ‘fugitive’. Think about that for a moment. I have always said that I’m innocent. There was no conspiracy. I have done nothing wrong.”

Moreover,  he thinks the government is scared about returning his belongings due to the media spectacle it would create. 

“They would have had to return everything. Imagine all of the New Zealand media at the mansion when the police has to return everything, all my cars, my TV’s, my servers and me directing them where to put my stuff.”

Not only does Dotcom have the asset forfeiture proceedings to suffer through, but also he will be a defendant in his upcoming extradition trial. Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload defendants are due to have an extradition hearing in June.

The takehome of the recent developments between Kim Dotcom and the US government is that the US steals from anyone, anywhere, including in the US. They steal anywhere from $30 to millions upon millions of dollars. It is a fact of life in “America.”  Here are some of many, many cases involving US authorities and asset forfeiture: 

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  1. When Adam Kokesh’s home was raided, he had $30,000 worth of silver stolen, as can be heard about in this episode of Anarchast.
  2. As we wrote in TDV Blog, the operator of Bitcoin gambling site Seals With Clubs, Bryan Micon, had many of his possessions stolen by police. As we wrote: “On February 11th, the Nevada Gaming Control Board raided Seals With Club chairman Bryan Micon’s house due to his involvement with the bitcoin poker site. Agents burst through the door armed to the teeth, knowing full well a baby lived inside, and Micon was handcuffed and escorted outside in his undergarments. The agents who raided his home stole his laptops and other electronic equipment. Micon had guns pointed in his face.” Bryan recalls the experience: “I’m a victim of the unfortunate systemic police state that has taken over the United States… I was charged with no crime, yet armed men broke down my door, pointed many guns at me — of course, traumatized my family — and then proceeded to steal all of my good electronics.”
  3. In Fitchburg Massachusetts, local motel owner Russell Caswell was forced to battle the government for three years to keep his own motel. Authorities made 15 drug busts there between 1994 and 2008. Though Caswell was never charged with any crimes, his motel was part of a lengthy civil asset forfeiture battle in court.  Caswell ultimately got to keep his property, but now intends to lobby for changes in civil asset forfeiture laws.
  4. Though she was not arrested, nor charged with a crime, police in Georgia seized $11,530 in cash that Alda Gentile said she had in a car for a house-hunting trip in Florida. They confiscated the money, driven by her son, for speeding. 
  5. Fred Lipke had $2,000 stolen by police when he came to bail out a friend from jail.  “I thought I was doing a good deed and helping out a friend,” said Lipke. “But even though I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s taken months to prove my innocence and get my money back.”
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  7. Rhode Island officials ultimately agreed to return the $860 dollars confiscated from a woman who was falsely arrested for drug dealing by a now-discredited “Strike Force” unit.  At first the state refused to return the money – for three years.  The drug dealing charge she spent three months in jail over was dismissed.
  8. Police in East Texas ultimately got caught for stealing money from black and Latino drivers who had committed no crime, threatening them with unfounded criminal charges. The ACLU settled a class-action suit pending court approval against officials in Tenaha and Shelby County where approximately $3 million was seized from innocent drivers between 2006 and 2008 in at least 140 cases. “This was a brazen case of highway robbery, plain and simple,” said Elora Mukherjee, a staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program.
  9. The city of Philadelphia has dropped its attempt to seize two homes using civil asset forfeiture laws after making national headlines.  Chris Sourovelis and his family lost their home earlier this year after his son was caught by police selling $40 of heroin. “I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over 30 years. I never thought it was possible for the police to just show up at my doorstep without notice and take my house when I’ve done nothing wrong,” Sorovelis said Thursday in a statement. “But that’s exactly what happened to me and my family.”
  10. Excited about $50,000 in casino winnings, Tan Nguyen hopped in his car oblivious of what was about to happen. The Nevada police officer, suspicious of the man’s large sum of cash, stole it. Ultimately, Nguyen got his $50,000 back and even the attorney’s fees.
  11. Matt Lett was upset when his $2,400 was confiscated from his car. It was the same person who had stolen from Nguyen, Depute Lee Dove. Alongside Nguyen, Lett got his money back.
  12. When The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit got busted by police at 2am for a party, officers said the establishment did not have a license. They passed out loitering tickets and impounded 40 cars because they were driven to the party. One guy had his car stolen from the impound lot. The rest got their cars back. They each paid $900 impound fee, all-around $35,000.
  13. Mississippi police pulled a man over for a routine traffic stop in July of 2013. An officer’s search of the vehicle found $36,000 in a secret compartment of the car. The police confiscated the money, having no proof the man committed a crime.
  14. A New Jersey man’s stash of cash was stolen by an officer when he traveled through Monterey, Tenn. The $22,000 was stolen when a police officer pulled him over. The man was going to pay for a car. He had active bids on eBay. “If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America,” Reby told his local news station. 
  15. Not getting ahead working minimum-wage temporary jobs in his hometown of Chicago, Michael Sanchez-Ratliff was taking his grandfather’s advice as he started on a cross-country trip last March in order to find new opportunities. Sanchez-Ratliff, then 20, took with him his entire life savings, including about $14,000 provided by his grandmother and an additional $5,000 he had saved from working. A Pottawattamie County sheriff’s deputy stopped the vehicle for traveling 5 miles per hour over the speed limit and stole all of the money. 
  16. A woman from Longview, Texas was eventually reunited with her $10,059 in cash. Balch Springs police stole it  because they said her car smelled like marijuana. She ultimately got the money back. 
  17. The IRS even gets in on the act, as for almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has served out Mexican dishes at her modest taco establishment. She deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away. But last year two tax agents knocked on her door and told her that they had seized her checking account of $33,000. She was not accused of money laundering or not paying her taxes. Charged with no crime,  the money was nonetheless seized because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time.
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  19. Thomas William’s house was raided by police in St. Joseph County. “We think you’re dealing marijuana,” they told Williams, a 72-year-old, retired carpenter and cancer patient who is disabled and carries a medical marijuana card. They stole his Dodge Journey, $11,000 in cash from his home, his television, his cell phone, his shotgun and are attempting to take his Colon Township home.
  20. After months of recuperation and a personal injury settlement, Richard McKenzie was able to afford to buy a new car. On Sept. 9, the Salisbury resident was driving north on Interstate 85 toward Virginia to buy a new car. McKenzie had nearly $19,000 in cash with him when his rental car was pulled over. He had the proper paperwork for it as well as letters from his attorney. The police stole the money, but McKenzie ultimately he recouped the cash. 
  21. Robert Pardee’s vehicle was stopped by an Iowa state trooper due to a broken taillight. A search turned up a small amount of marijuana, and so Pardee was charged with possession. A criminal court eventually found him innocent of any wrongdoing, but the police kept the $30,100 they stole from him.
  22. And of course there is the Kim Dotcom story with which we started this blog. 

What civil asset forfeiture laws show us is that diversification is key. Internationalize your assets and have them around the world (gold, bitcoin, etc), not in bank accounts, but in various trusts (TDV OffshoreTDV Wealth Management can help) and also in bitcoin. 

In the TDV Newsletter we evaluate all of the different methods to diversify your portfolio. In order to learn how to store gold internationally, our Getting Your Gold Out Of Dodge Report is a must-have. 

Even if you are lucky enough to not be American and directly under the control of the US federal government, Kim Dotcom shows that you are still a potential target for the largest mafia organization in the world.

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