Thursday, 5 May 2016

Woman, 21, Arrested at Sydney Airport for Spending $3.3 Million on Handbags and Luxury Goods After $4.6m was Wrongly Transferred into Her Bank Account

A 21-year-old woman who was arrested at Sydney Airport trying to leave Australia allegedly spent millions on handbags and luxury goods after $4.6 million was mistakenly transferred into her bank account.

Christine Jiaxin Lee, a Malaysian national, wrongly received the money after it was transferred into her Westpac bank account as an overdraft four years ago.

The chemical engineering student, who was attempting to leave to Malaysia when she was picked up by Australian Federal Police at Sydney Airport on Wednesday night, still allegedly owes $3.3 million to her bank. 

She allegedly purchased 'luxury items' while taking advantage of the mistakenly extended overdraft.

Lee appeared at Waverley Local Court on Thursday after being charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The young student was granted bail in court on condition that she report twice daily to police in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, surrenders her emergency passport and lives with her boyfriend Vincent King in the suburb of Rhodes.

But she will spend a night in jail because her boyfriend - who tried to pay a $1000 bond for her release - was only carrying a Malaysian ID card and officers could not verify his identity, meaning they had to refuse her bail.

There was also a misspelling on her bail address, which must be updated in front of a magistrate before she can be released.

Earlier on Thursday, a Magistrate said of the money Miss Lee had accessed from her bank account: 'She didn't take it from them - they gave it to her.'

The court heard that although the police fraud unit had started their investigation into the withdrawal of the money in 2012, they only issued the arrest warrant on March 4 this year.

The student told her lawyer that she had obtained the emergency passport to fly home to Malaysia to visit her parents, who did not know about her arrest.

Lee's lawyer, Fiona McCarron told the court that the money was partly spent on luxury items like expensive handbags, to which the Magistrate commented: 'That's a lot of handbags.'

And Ms Stapleton agreed with the lawyer when she said the police would struggle to prove the spending of the money was illegal.

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