Malaysian student accidentally given £2.3 million by bank 'tries to flee country'
Christine Jiaxin Lee, who was accidently given access to millions by her bank, has been arrested as she tried to fly home to Malaysia.
A banking error led to Sydney-based student, being given access to an unlimited overdraft in her Westpac bank account. The 21-year-old made withdrawals totalling AU$4,653,333.02 - around £2.3million.
While some of the money has since been recovered, about AU$3.3million is still ‘outstanding’, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The police accused her of placing some of the money into other accounts.
Ms Lee was stopped at Sydney airport while trying to fly to Malaysia on an emergency passport.
Living in Australia as a chemical engineering student at the University of Sydney, Ms Lee is now involved in a court case over the funds. Accused of not telling the bank about the issue, she is also charged with knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime and dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Some of the money was allegedly spent on designer handbags and luxury apartments. But police alleged around $33,000 was transferred every week into private accounts in other banks.
She was released on bail after her boyfriend, Vincent King, posted a $1,000 bail.
He expressed shock over the allegations and claimed he had no idea his girlfriend had the cash.
“That’s big money,” he told reporters, adding she was a “good girl”.
However, Lisa Stapleton, magistrate at Waverley Local Court, raised doubts over whether any law had been broken if the bank had “inadvertently” allowed Ms Lee access to the money.
“It isn’t proceeds of crime. It’s money we all dream of,” she said, adding the vast quantity of money amounted to “a lot of handbags”.
“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.”
However, prosecutors said the bank and police had attempted to talk to Ms Lee about the money but she had not responded to emails or phone calls, news.com.au reported.
Independent News Service