A Chilean millionaire fighting extradition today insisted he had no chance of a fair trial in his home country. 

Alberto Chang Rajii told a court that he had been "demonised" by the press in Chile and that authorities in his home country were keeping his mother under arrest to use as a "bargaining chip."

Dressed impeccably and speaking fluent English, Mr Chang Rajii took the witness stand and recounted his business history. 

The entrepreneur is wanted in Chile to face money laundering and fraud charges, with prosecutors there alleging that he ran an elaborate Ponzi scheme that skimmed millions off investors. 

Starting off at the age of 15 by investing in a shop which sold videotapes, Mr Chang eventually ventured into the world of private investment.

"I have been an investor all my life" declared the man who is the head of several commercial companies and worldwide business ventures.

He told a court that he came to Malta "with a legitimate business interest besides for tax efficiency."

Mr Chang Rajii explained how he was lured to Malta by the favourable Individual Investor Programme after consulting Henley and Partners in London. A new Chilean presidency had introduced a 40 per cent tax on the worldwide income of Chilean investors which negatively affected Mr Chang's financial interests.

He came to Malta, together with his mother, in March 2016 intending to purchase property and also to invest in the Manoel Island project. However, his plans were soon frustrated following the arrest of his mother upon her return to Chile and notice of the extradition request in is regard shortly after.

Mr Chang Rajii's IIP application was disengaged, his request for a Maltese passport was halted and he was transformed from a "poster-boy" for the Henley and Partner's scheme to the subject of allegedly "malicious persecution by the Chilean authorities."

According to the witness, the Chilean authorities were irked by his decision to avoid excessive tax legislation in his home country by investing his funds elsewhere.

Mr Chang Rajii insisted that his alleged creditors had not been paid since his funds had been frozen by the Chilean prosecutors.

The court, presided by magistrate Aaron Bugeja, questioned the reason behind Mr Chang Rajii  fear of such "malicious persecution." The witness explained that the extradition paperwork contained irregularities, his mother was still being kept under house arrest to be used as a "bargaining chip" and witnesses who had testified in his favour before the Chilean authorities had subsequently changed their version, allegedly under duress.

Having been "demonised" by the negative publicity in his home country, he would stand no chance of a fair trial before the courts in Chile, Mr Chang Rajii concluded.

Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Stephen Tonna Lowell are defence counsel.
Lawyer Vincienne Vella from the AG is leading the prosecution.

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