Kim Dotcom's New Zealand political party teams up

AP News
Posted: May 26, 2014 10:24 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The political party launched in New Zealand by indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom announced Tuesday it is joining forces with another small party that advocates for the nation's indigenous Maori.

The Internet Party and the Mana Party said the new party — called Internet Mana — will enhance their chances in September's general election.

Dotcom, who was born in Germany, is not eligible to run because he's not a New Zealand citizen. Records show he has donated 250,000 New Zealand dollars ($214,000) to the Internet Party.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Dotcom of facilitating massive Internet piracy on his now-shuttered website Megaupload. Dotcom is fighting U.S. attempts to extradite him. He says he's not responsible for those who chose to use the site to illegally download songs and movies.

The Mana Party currently holds one seat in New Zealand's 121-seat parliament. That's held by Hone Harawira, who will now lead the new alliance. The Internet Party was officially registered this month and has been polling at lower than 1 percent.

Any seats in parliament could end up being pivotal because polls indicate voters are fairly evenly split between the ruling conservatives and the opposition liberals.

"Get ready for an awesome election campaign," Dotcom wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Much of Dotcom's Megaupload fortune has been seized and frozen by authorities, but he has since started a new website called Mega. Records show a trust owned by Dotcom's recently estranged wife Mona Dotcom recently sold a partial stake in Mega, reducing its ownership in the company from 26.5 percent to 17.7 percent.

Mega has announced plans to list on the New Zealand stock market through a maneuver known as a reverse takeover. Documents filed with the stock exchange put Mega's value at NZ$210 million, although it will be investors who ultimately determine the company's worth once trading begins.

Mega Chief Executive Stephen Hall said Tuesday he hopes trading will begin late June or early July, about a month later than initially planned.

Dotcom's much-delayed extradition hearing is scheduled for July.