Malaysian student who spent USD 3.6 million on luxury shopping spree after bank overdraft error is now cleared of charges


SYDNEY: The Malaysian student who was accused to have spent AUD 4.6 million (USD 3.6 million) on luxury goods after her bank accidentally gave her an unlimited overdraft account has had all charges against her dropped.

The 22-year-old student, Christine Jiaxin Lee who is a student at Sydney University was alleged to have spent the money on high-end handbags, clothes, jewellery, mobile phones and a vacuum cleaner in the span of just 11 months

However, prosecutors dropped charges against Lee who is studying chemical engineering after a similar case in which a man charged with fraud after withdrawing AUD 2.1 million (USD 1.6 million) from ATMs was thrown out of court

The incident began when Westpac accidentally gave Lee an unlimited overdraft in a processing error in 2012

It is alleged that she realised the overdraft in her bank account only in July 2014 when she then went on luxury shopping spree for the following 11 months

It is also alleged that Lee spent over AUD 220,000 (USD 175,441) alone at the Christian Dior boutique in Sydney in a single day

In April 2015, a senior manager from the bank realised the processing error and claimed to have asked Lee to return the millions back. However, Lee claimed that there was no processing error as she believed the money was transferred by her parents to her account.

Lee was arrested by immigration officials in May 2016 when she was about to board a flight to Malaysia.

Lee’s lawyer, Hugo Aston told the Daily Telegraph that his client is planning to move back to Malaysia following the outcome of the case.

“She is happy it is behind her, and to move on with her life,” Aston told the newspaper.

“There was no deception.

“It’s a very interesting case, and an interesting outcome.

“It is obviously clear the bank should adopt better policies.”

It still remains unclear whether or not the seized luxury items Lee allegedly bought with the money will be returned to the student

Senior banking officials told the newspaper that they were forced to track down more than AUD 1.3 million (USD 1.03 million) Lee allegedly hid in several private accounts.

A Westpac spokesman said: “Westpac has taken all possible steps to recover its funds, including taking civil action against Ms Lee.”

“The criminal charges against Lee were a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and police, and we respect their decision.”

What would you do if you suddenly get extra big sum of money in your bank account? Would you spend it all or notify the bank for the abnormality? Tell us your comment.



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