SYDNEY, May 5 — A Malaysian woman was arrested by Australian authorities at Sydney Airport after she attempted to fly back to Malaysia yesterday after allegedly spending A$4.6 million (RM13.8 million) that was mistakenly transferred into her bank account, according to a Daily Mail report.
Chemical engineering student Christine Jiaxin Lee, 21, appeared in Waverly Local Court today after being charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of the crime after she was arrested for trying to board a flight back to Malaysia.
Australian police said Lee wrongly received the money after the sum was transferred to her Westpac bank account as an overdraft in August 2012.
Her bank, Westpac, accidentally gave her credit in the form of an unlimited overdraft.
Between July 2014 and April 2015, Lee allegedly made numerous withdrawals totalling A$4,653,333.02, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote.
Australian magistrate Lisa Stapleton who heard the case said, “It isn't proceeds of crime. It’s money we all dream of,” and warned that the police would struggle to prove that the spending of the money was illegal, the Daily Mail wrote.
Stapleton said, “They gave it (the money) to her,” adding that if it was proved that the money was indeed given to Lee, then she would owe the money to the bank and have to pay it back.
“But she wouldn't necessarily have broken the law,” Stapleton added, according to Daily Mail.
Her lawyer Fiona McCarron said Lee spent about A$1 million on luxury items such as handbags.
Another A$3.3 million has yet to be recovered.
Prosecutor Marc Turner said the police and the bank tried to contact Lee to speak about the money, but she failed to return phone calls or answer emails.
The court heard that while investigation into the withdrawal of the money started in 2012, the arrest warrant for Lee was only issued in March this year.
The court was also told that Lee was aware that the police were trying to contact her and obtained an emergency Malaysian passport in order to leave the country.
Lee told her lawyer that she had lost her passport and obtained an emergency passport to fly back to Malaysia to visit her parents, who did not know about her arrest.
Lee was granted bail for A$1,000 and faces strict bail conditions as she may pose a flight risk.
She will spend the night in jail as her boyfriend, who tried to pay a bond for her release, only carried a Malaysian ID and could not prove his identity to the police, who refused her bail.
Lee had lived in Australia for five years and is three years through a four-year chemical engineering degree.
She is due to appear in Downing Centre court on June 21.