A Chilean who had failed in his application to purchase a Maltese passport has been granted bail, pending an extradition decision in connection with an investigation into money laundering and fraud involving millions of dollars.

Alberto Chang-Rajii, the president and founder of Grupo Arcano, a private equity and venture capital firm worth millions, was arraigned this afternoon before Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo.

Mr Chang-Rajii, who moved to Malta last year, is being accused by Chilean authorities of defrauding investors up to $100 million through a Ponzi scheme, sources said.

In an interview with the Times of Malta last May, the man had claimed that his company had only been forced into default because Chilean prosecutors seized all his assets on the basis of unproven charges.

In court, police inspector Chris Galea Scannura and Vincienne Vella, from the Attorney General’s office, said that after the arrest warrant was issued yesterday, the defendant had been hard to trace.

Inspector Galea Scannura pointed out that it took the police hours to speak to the Chilean as he had locked himself inside his Sliema apartment.  The prosecution also argued that the man had no links whatsoever with Malta and so expressed concern that he would abscond.

On his part, defence lawyer Stefano Filletti pointed out that the man was arrested within 24 hours of the arrest warrant being issued. Moreover, he added, the man was easily accessible and had been interviewed by the Times of Malta on various occasions regarding his case.

The defence also argued that the man’s address was the same given to the Maltese authorities when he had applied for a residence permit with the intention of acquiring a Malta passport through the Individual Investor Programme.

Although he was granted bail against a deposit of €2,000 and a personal guarantee of €10,000, the accused was ordered to remain under house arres and go out daily only to report at the Sliema police station.

In an interview in the Times of Malta last May, Mr Chang-Rajii said he had applied to become a Maltese citizen through the IIP scheme in March 2015 and was granted a residence permit by Identity Malta after passing through a due diligence process.

Mr Chang-Rajii had told this paper that Identity Malta had decided to revoke his residence permit shortly after charges were issued against him in Chile.

He said Identity Malta did not even contact him directly to revoke his permit. Instead, the citizenship scheme’s concessionaires, Henley & Partners, contacted him and asked him to return his identity card. The man had also expressed his intention to take legal action against Identity Malta.



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