She kept $4.6 million and lived life of luxury

This article is more than 12 months old

M'sian student in Australia who kept wrongly transferred $4.6 million lived life of luxury

The Malaysian woman who received A$4.6 million (S$4.6 million) after Westpac Bank mistakenly credited her account four years ago, lived the high life in Sydney before her arrest this week.

Christine Jiaxin Lee, 21, listed her address in court documents as a sub-penthouse unit in the suburbs of Rhodes, Sydney, that "boasts uninterrupted views across to Sydney Harbour", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The unit was said to have been put up for lease in March with rent set at A$780 a week. An advertisement called it one of Rhodes' "newest and most sought after properties" with 180-degree views of Sydney.

She was arrested at Sydney Airport on Wednesday trying to return to Malaysia after allegedly spending some of that money on handbags and luxury goods, Mail Online reported.

The chemical engineering student still allegedly owes A$3.3 million to Westpac Bank.

Lee also allegedly moved about A$5,000 a day to secret bank accounts not connected to Westpac to hide the A$1.3 million, Malay Mail reported, quoting The Daily Telegraph.

The transfers were small enough to have gone unnoticed by the banks.

Lee's Facebook page gives only hints of her life of luxury, with photos of her on a motorbike, with a puppy and wearing designer clothes.

Her boyfriend, Mr Vincent King, was also reported to have given a second address in court on Thursday, which was a waterfront unit in the Sienna By The Bay complex, also in Rhodes.

He expressed shock on hearing of his girlfriend's alleged windfall.

"That's big money," he is reported to have said.


Between July 2014 and April last year, Lee allegedly made numerous withdrawals totalling about A$4.6 million.

In August 2012, Lee opened a statement account with Westpac Bank, after which the bank had mistakenly given her credit on the account in the form of an unlimited overdraft.

Lee, who has been living in Australia for the past five years, went on a shopping spree even though Westpac and the police made numerous attempts to contact her.

She appeared at a local court in Sydney on Thursday after being charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. She was granted bail for A$1,000.

Sydney Morning Herald quoted Magistrate Lisa Stapleton as saying that the suspect may not have broken the law.

She said: "It isn't proceeds of crime. It's money we all dream of."

Lee's legal aid lawyer Fiona McCarron said the police would have difficulties proving the spending was illegal, to which Ms Stapleton agreed.

"She didn't take it from them. They gave it to her," Ms Stapleton said.