Bank Accidentally Gives Malaysian Girl RM18.4 Million, What She Did With The Money …
Christine Jiaxin Lee has been charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime
THE boyfriend of Christine Jiaxin Lee said he was in shock over allegations his girlfriend was mistakenly given $4.6m in a banking blunder that made her an accidental millionaire.
Vincent King arrived at Waverley Local Court on Thursday afternoon to bail out the chemical engineering student who he said was “a good girl”.
The 21-year-old was due to be bailed yesterday afternoon but instead spent another night in custody after an issue arose with Mr King’s identification and the $1000 surety.
Mr King told reporters he had “no idea” Ms Lee had access to the money, had never seen her buy expensive items and was in the dark about his girlfriend’s situation until she called him yesterday asking for help.
The court heard earlier that a Westpac “glitch” allowed Ms Lee access to $4.6 million, part of which she spent on luxury handbags and renting lavish penthouses.
The bank inadvertently gave Ms Lee access to an unlimited overdraft account four years ago when she was a month off turning 18.
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Police allege between July 2014 and April last year, Ms Lee allegedly made withdrawals on numerous occasions that totalled $4,653,333.02 — of which $3.3 million was still “outstanding”.
Ms Lee was arrested on Wednesday night trying to fly to Malaysia after obtaining an emergency passport.
When told outside court the amount Ms Lee allegedly had access to, Mr King said: “That’s big money.”
The couple have been in a relationship for 18 months.
She has been charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
It is also alleged she failed to notify the bank that she was not entitled to the money.
But Magistrate Lisa Stapleton raised doubts about whether Ms Lee’s alleged use of the money was a proceed of crime if the bank had “inadvertently” given her an overdraft facility that she then took advantage of.
“It isn’t proceeds of crime. It’s money we all dream of,” she said.
According to the Westpac website, a personal overdraft is an unsecured loan (up to an agreed limit) that forms part of your everyday Westpac Choice bank account.
When Ms Lee’s lawyer Fiona McCarron said the money was partly spent on luxury items such as expensive handbags, Ms Stapleton remarked: “That’s a lot of handbags.”
She agreed with Ms McCarron when the lawyer said the police would struggle to prove the spending of the money was illegal.
“They gave it to her,” Ms Stapleton said. If that was proved to be the case, then Ms Lee would owe the money to Westpac and have to pay it back, but she wouldn’t necessarily have broken the law, Ms Stapleton said.
Ms McCarron, when arguing for her client’s bail, said, while the first reading of the facts made for “suspicious reading”, the case was not as straightforward as it appeared.
She said there was nothing “nefarious” about Ms Lee trying to obtain an emergency passport as she had simply lost her own passport.
Ms Lee was prevented from boarding a flight to Malaysia at Sydney Airport by federal police about 8.25pm on Wednesday.
She had been living in Australia for a year before she opened the Westpac account.
Prosecutor Marc Turner said the bank and police had tried to speak to her about the money but she didn’t return emails or phone calls.
A fraud squad investigation began in 2012 but it took until March this year for a warrant to be issued for her arrest. Within weeks she applied for a passport, Mr Turner said.
Bail was granted with strict conditions, including giving up her emergency passport and twice daily reporting to a police station.