Chilean businessman wanted for extradition ‘a victim of state prosecution’

Defence lawyer says Alberto Chang-Rajii who is wanted for extradition, ‘a victim of state prosecution’

Alberto Chang-Rajii (centre)
Alberto Chang-Rajii (centre)

A Chilean lawyer has outlined the alleged irregularities surrounding the request for the extradition of businessman Alberto Chang Rajii, summoned by the defence to explain that procedural requisites for Chang Rajii’s extradition were absent.

Chilean businessman Alberto Chang Rajii, who is wanted in his home country to face fraud charges, was released from arrest after stumping up €100,000 in bail money.  In Chile he is wanted on charges of defrauding investors out of nearly $100 million.

But lawyer Alex Carocca Pérez told the Maltese court that the Chilean public prosecutor never explained the charges against Chang Rajii and that a 15 June resolution from the Court of Appeal of Santiago was not in line with the Chilean criminal code.

“The descriptions of the things which happened... it is not correct. In particular, since the things done are not described, the second requisite of extradition is missing.”

Under Chilean law, a crime must be punishable with imprisonment for over one year to merit extradition, the witness told Magistrate Aaron Bugeja. Fraud has a sentence of 61 days to 5 years, explained the lawyer, “but jurisprudence has established that only the minimum sentence had to be considered for extradition to be requested.”

When dealing with money laundering, he said, the sentence cannot exceed the minimum of 61 days.

When asked whether there was any distinction between money laundering and the predicate offence under Chilean law, the lawyer said that the difference was that a sentence for money laundering cannot be more than for the predicate offence.

“The real punishment, which can increase in severity, depends on factors which could emerge during proceedings, but not in the beginning. In this particular case, it is being asked at the beginning of proceedings and not after an investigation. The crime of fraud in Chile, was only introduced as a predicate offence on the 18th February 2015,” Carocca Pérez said, in halting testimony through a translator.

The witness said it was the appeals court that has to check the requisites of the extradition which then would be sent to the foreign country. “It did not happen in this case. It was not sent to the court for approval.”

The application contains a request for extradition, for crimes including fraud as a predicate offence from 2009 to 2015. The defence is arguing that the application should have considered fraud as a predicate offence from 2015 onwards. “In the case of Mr. Chang, there are no records from the investigation in Chile which say that elements of organised crime exist. There are more people accused in this case – the only person accused of money laundering is Mr. Chang.”

Carocca Pérez  said there were no international connections or other records which could explain or show the existence of an international conspiracy to commit a crime, that directors and employees of Chang Rajii’s companies had not been charged with money laundering, and that his Chang Rajii’s spent many months in prison without any evidence against her.

Conflict of interest in Chilean Supreme Court

The witness said that the president of the Supreme Court had communicated with the parties to say that three potential victims were related to the partner of one of the three presiding judges, and that this partner of his was also a judge of the supreme court in Chile.

He said he had asked for the recusal of this judge and that the proceedings be cancelled and reheard before another court. His request was rejected by the Supreme Court neacuse the lawyer didn’t know the name of these supposed victims who were related to the judge’s partner.

These grievances were raised in an appeal application, but the Chilean criminal code did not contemplate the possibility of appeal against a sentence in an extradition case.  In this case, the Supreme Court declared his application as inadmissible due to the fact that it was not contemplated in the Criminal Code.

The witness also claimed that Chang Rajii had been one of many victims of an official campaign of persecution in Chile. “We don’t have a judicial explanation. The problem is that in the case against Mr Chang, there were more companies which weren't banks received money and invested them. The public prosecutor started persecuting the high net worth individuals in the country.”