What do you do when you discover a large amount of money in your bank account? Thank your lucky stars and spend it lavishly?
That’s exactly what happened to Christine Jiaxin Lee.
Unfortunately, the 21-year-old Malaysian student was arrested by Australian authorities for allegedly spending A$4.6 million (RM13.8 million) that was mistakenly deposited into her bank account.
According to reports, Christine, a chemical engineering student who has been living in Australia for the past 5 years, was arrested by Australian Federal Police at Sydney Airport when she tried to board a flight back to Malaysia on Wednesday (4th May) night.
Christine was charged at Waverly Local Council in Sydney with “dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of the crime” after Westpac Bank mistakenly gave her credit in the form of an unlimited overdraft in August 2012.
Instead of alerting the bank of its error, the young woman went on a massive shopping spree for luxury designer handbags and shoes that would even make our PM’s wife proud. According to Daily Mail, Ms Lee was living luxuriously in a sub-penthouse apartment at River Boulevard complete with Sydney Harbour Bridge views.
Sergeant Turner said that even though Westpac and the police made frequent attempts to contact her, she did not return any of the bank’s phone calls or e-mails. The Waverly Local Council was also informed that out of the A$4.6mil (RM13.8mil), A$3.3mil (RM9.9mil) had not been recovered.
During the court session, Australian magistrate Lisa Stapleton questioned whether Christine had broken the law, as the money she spent was technically given to her. “It isn’t proceeds of crime. It’s money we all dream of. She didn’t take it from them. They gave it (the money) to her,” said Stapleton. If that was the case, then she would owe the bank the money she spent but she wouldn’t have broken the law.
Christine has been granted bail by the magistrate and is due to appear at Downing Centre Local court on 21st June.
If you were in Christine’s shoes, what would you have done?
UPDATE (14th December, 10:45am):
7 months after Christine Lee Jia Xin was arrested for spending millions that didn’t belong to her, she’s back in the news again.
According to Daily Mail Australia, the 21-year-old Malaysian student in Australia has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her at the Downing Centre Court in Sydney yesterday (Tuesday, 13th December).
Her lawyer, Hugo Aston, told the news portal that the legal team would be “vigorously defending the charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime” adding that they are positive Christine will be acquitted.
Christine’s parents are currently in Sydney to provide her with moral support. Hugo added that the family plans on returning to Malaysia once the court ordeal is over.