Expensive cars, cash, shotguns and artworks are among items seized by police today when they raided 10 Auckland properties connected to allegations of international copyright infringement being investigated by the FBI.
Four people were arrested as part of an operation led by the US Department of Justice targeting large-scale criminal copyright infringement and money laundering around the world, police said.
A US indictment accuses New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload.com website of costing copyright holders more than US$500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content, and generating more than US$175m in criminal proceeds.
The arrests, carried out by the Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand 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 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 US Department of Justice of reproducing and distributing infringing copies of all types of copyrighted works, including movies, television programmes, music, software and books.
At a press conference in Auckland this afternoon, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald said he had been working on the investigation since August last year.
He said 10 properties were raided, including a mansion in Coatsville.
Mr Wormald said the “top-end” motor vehicles were worth $6 million alone and police confiscated a further $10m in cash.