World

'My parents give me lots of money'

Student who spent money wrongly channelled into her bank account claims she thought the $4.6m was from her parents

The Malaysian student accused of spending A$4.6 million (S$4.6 million) on luxury items due to an Australian bank error said she thought her wealthy parents in Malaysia had put the money into her account.

Miss Christine Lee Jia Xin splurged millions of dollars on handbags and designer goods over 11 months, after a Westpac banking error.

She was charged on May 5 with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Miss Lee received a phone call from Westpac's senior manager of group investigations Matt Tregoning on April 8 last year.

He froze her account after realising she had accidentally been given an unlimited overdraft, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The call, contained in an affidavit obtained by Fairfax Media, offered the first glimpse of Miss Lee's version of the events.

When asked why she had overdrawn her account by A$4.6 million, she said she thought her parents were putting money in her account.

SHOES

"I bought clothes, shoes, lots of handbags. They are in my unit at Rhodes," she said, adding that she had only A$4,000 cash left.

"My mother is coming over to visit me in June and will give the bank a cheque," she said.

"I have told my parents about it and they aren't very happy with me."

The chemical engineering student was in Australia on a student visa.

Miss Lee had also transferred A$1.15 million to her PayPal account in 14 transactions in one day.

Westpac then froze the account and contacted Ms Lee, asking why she thought she had access to that much money.

She said: "My parents give me lots of money."

Westpac obtained court orders last year to seize all her assets, declare her bankrupt and take her passport, which she said she could not find.

When three solicitors entered her apartment last May, they found shopping bags, shoe boxes, designer handbags, scarves, shoes and jewellery scattered all over the floor and the furniture.

She was also forced to hand over more than 100 handbags, mounds of clothes, sunglasses, shoes, scarves, a vacuum cleaner, cushions and jewellery.

Photos tendered in the Supreme Court show a number of diamond necklaces, earrings and rings, plus several photos of Miss Lee flaunting her goods.

She was arrested at Sydney Airport earlier this month as she tried to board a flight to Malaysia using an emergency-issue passport.

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