Lawyers defending Chilean businessman Alberto Chang Rajii have said that they are puzzled by what they described as the failure by the Chilean authorities to identify the transactions on which the fraud and money laundering charges rest
Lawyers defending Chilean businessman Alberto-Chang Rajii have told an extradition hearing that they are puzzled by what they described as the failure by the Chilean authorities to identify suspect transactions amongst the hundreds of thousands which they had sent as evidence.
Chang-Rajii is wanted in Chile to answer charges of investment fraud, money laundering and banking offences after his Grupo Arcano group of companies and its investment arm Onix allegedly lost millions of dollars belonging to investors. Chang-Rajii is also understood to be embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit over unpaid taxes in Chile.
This morning prosecuting lawyer Vincienne Vella from the Office of the Attorney General presented the court with a document containing answers from the Chilean judicial authorities to questions that had been sent. Presiding magistrate Aaron Bugeja gratefully observed that the Chilean authorities had been very efficient in providing the information.
During the last sitting, defence lawyers Stefano Filletti and Stephen Tonna Lowell had asked for clarification over a number of aspects of the Chilean extradition request.
The first was whether or not fraud had been included as a qualifying offence for money laundering at the time it was allegedly committed. The second unresolved issue was the possibility of a conflict of interest on the part of requesting Chilean judge. Prosecutors in Chile had confirmed that Chang-Rajii had filed a request for the judge’s substitution and that it had not been upheld and had then claimed that the judge in question had no involvement with the decision.
Defence lawyer Stefano Filletti argued that there are five other persons accused in the fraud case in Chile, apart from Chang-Rajii and his mother.
What the court had before it today were three offences, the lawyer said: fraud, a banking offence and money laundering. The evidence consists of statements, hundreds of thousands of banking transactions and company information, he said. Filletti asked which of these transactions were suspected of being fraudulent or aimed at laundering money and why, as it was not clear from the evidence.
The defence had to understand what it was dealing with before defending, he argued, describing as ironic the fact that the alleged money laundering took place through transactions between banks, which traditionally have strong setups to prevent this. The simple fact that a large number of transactions had taken place was not illegal, the defence said.
The Office of the Attorney General was not in position to reply at this stage and asked for time to refer the additional questions to the Chilean authorities.
The case continues.