SEC’s fraud case against tech ‘investor’ moves forward as Malta extradition decision looms

Alberto Chang-Rajii spoke at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in 2014. YOUTUBE
Alberto Chang-Rajii spoke at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in 2014. YOUTUBE

As a once-high profile tech “investor” charged with fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission awaits a decision on extradition from the court in Malta, the SEC’s case against him is moving forward.

In the SEC’s case, attorney Melanie Damian was recently appointed receiver of Miami Beach-based Onix Capital and its subsidiaries. In November, the SEC filed fraud charges and an asset freeze against Alberto Chang-Rajii and his asset management firm Onix.

Damian will take possession of any assets held by Onix, including pre-IPO investments in Uber, Snapchat, Square and other technology companies. Once the assets are secured, she will then make recommendations to the court and liquidator on the method in which investors seeking relief in the U.S. can recoup their investments, Damian said.

The SEC alleges that Chang-Rajii and Onix defrauded investors in promissory notes that “guaranteed” double-digit annual returns, and bilked others who were told their funds would be invested in promising startups, including at least two based in Miami. Between 2012 and March 2016, Chang-Rajii and Onix, an affiliate of his firm, Grupo Arcano, raised about $7.4 million from investors, while misrepresenting the investments offered, the use of the funds raised, and his own background, and he transferred more than $11 million from Onix bank accounts to his personal accounts, according to the SEC complaint filed in U.S. Southern District of Florida. Chile launched its own criminal investigation.

[READ MORE: SEC files charges against Miami tech ‘investor’ and his company]

Chang-Rajii, who founded Grupo Arcano in his native Chile, said he made a fortune as an early investor in Google, received his MBA at Stanford University, and was a successful angel investor – all untrue, according to the SEC complaint and numerous media accounts.

After his scheme began to unravel, Chang-Rajii fled to Malta, and was arrested in December. An extradition hearing wrapped up earlier this month in Malta, and the Maltese court’s decision on extradition is expected on or before April 7, said Matthew Agius, who is covering the case for MaltaToday, in an e-mail Friday.

Grupo Arcano maintained offices in Miami Beach, Santiago, London and Sydney and employed 46 people until last spring when the scandal unfolded. Chang-Rajii set up Onix in 2012 in Miami Beach. In 2013, he joined the founding board of Endeavor Miami, a nonprofit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs, and resigned in March 2016 after news reports first in Chile and then in Miami surfaced questioning his academic credentials and the health of his company. He invested in at least two Miami-based companies, Open English, an online English-language school, and Yodel, a social media startup

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg