Malaysian Student Tried To Flee Australia After Spending RM13.6 Million That Wasn't Hers
Malaysian 'millionaire' student thought her parents gave her the RM13.65 million
Christine Jiaxin Lee, a 21-year-old studying in Sydney, explained that she thought her wealthy parents in Malaysia had banked in the millions into her account in a [phone call] contained in an affidavit obtained by Fairfax Media.
Matt Tregoning, Westpac's senior manager of group investigations, contacted Lee after freezing her account upon realising that she had been mistakenly granted an unlimited overdraft. At that point, she had already withdrawn AUD4.6 million (RM13.65 million) that wasn't hers.
I bought clothes, shoes, lots of handbags ... They are in my unit at Rhodes," she said, adding that she had only $4000 cash left.
"My parents give me lots of money."
According to court documents obtained by Fairfax Media, bank statements show that Lee's first overdraft was on 22 July 2014 due to a monthly rent payment of AUD3,454 (RM10,194). The deficit in her account was quickly topped back up.
However, she stopped doing so when two more rent payments went through. Instead, she started transferring small, then large sums to a PayPal account over seven months, totalling AUD4.5 million (RM13.28 million). About half of the money was forwarded to two Commonwealth Bank accounts and used to splurge at Sydney's high-end boutiques.
Lee's transactions finally triggered an alert to Westpac's Product Risk unit on 7 April when she transferred AUD1.15 million (RM3.39 million) to her PayPay account in 14 transactions over on day. Westpac promptly froze her account and contacted her.
When asked why she thought she had access to that much money, she said, "My parents give me lots of money."
"My mother is coming over to visit me in June and will give the bank a cheque. I have [told my parents about it] and they are not very happy with me."
16 MAY: Malaysian student's jaw-dropping shopping list includes RM441,582 Hermes Birkin handbag
Considered one of the rarest Hermes Birkin bags, the Himalayan Birkin that Christine Jiaxin Lee allegedly bought with the money mistakenly given to her by Westpac Bank due to a system glitch is made from the skins of specially-bred "almost albino" Nile crocodiles and can cost up to AUD150,000 (RM441,582) per pop.
Lee was arrested at Sydney Airport earlier this month for attempting to flee Australia after a warrant for her arrest was issued. She currently faces charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime for allegedly spending AUD4.6 million (RM13.65 million) after a banking glitch granted her an unlimited overdraft on her bank account.
Christine Jiaxin Lee, 21, spent a fortune on designer handbags, clothes, jewellery, mobile phones, a selfie camera, and even a deluxe vacuum cleaner
Westpac Bank froze her account on 7 April 2015 after realising their blunder, but Lee was still spending five to six-figure amounts on shopping sprees as she had transferred some of the money to another bank account
The bank had also with court-issued notices to produce the goods when they froze her account. In late April 2015, Lee handed in 27 items totalling about AUD1 million (RM3 million) to the bank. In May, the Supreme Court allowed Westpac to seize any assets to repay the remaining millions.
However, Lee had allegedly transferred some of her money to a Commonwealth Bank account, allowing her to continue her shopping sprees after her Westpac Bank account was frozen. She was said to have dropped AUD332,310 (RM978,691) in three visits to the Christian Dior store in Sydney, AUD54,640 (RM160,921) at Chanel and AUD15,553 (RM45,805) on online boutique Far Fetch.
Lee was declared an unregistered bankrupt in September 2015.
6 MAY: Four years ago, in 2012, a glitch in Westpac Bank's system mistakenly granted Christine Jiaxin Lee - then only 17 years old - an unlimited overdraw on her bank account
Lee had been living in Sydney for a year and was one month shy of turning 18 when the bank made the expensive error.
What this means is that Lee can withdraw as much money as she wants and continue to do so, even after her bank account has zero balance
However, instead of notifying the bank of the error, Lee took advantage of the situation and went on a massive shopping spree. In less than year, she'd already took out more than A$4.6 million (about RM13.65 million)!
Between July 2014 and April 2015, Lee had allegedly made numerous withdrawals totalling AUD4,653,333.02 (RM13,766,205) and is said to have spent about AUD1 million (RM2.96 million) on luxury items such as designer handbags.
She has also been living in a luxurious sub-penthouse Rider Boulevard apartment overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which - according property records - would have cost her AUD780 (RM2,307) a week or AUD3,120 (RM9,230) a month.
According to the police, AUD3.3 million (RM9.76 million) of the amount she'd withdrawn has yet to be recovered.
Unbeknownst to her, Australian police had already begun investigating the matter in 2012. When the bank and police attempted to contact her after a warrant for her arrest was issued in March 2016, Lee made plans to flee Australia.
According to prosecutor Marc Turner, Lee was aware that the bank and police are trying to make contact with her. Within weeks, she had applied for an emergency passport to leave the country.
On Wednesday night, 4 May, the law finally caught up to Lee - now 21 and a third-year chemical engineering student - when she was arrested by the Australian Federal Police at Sydney Airport, where she was attempting to fly to Malaysia
Lee appeared in Waverly Local Court on 5 May, where she has been charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime
It is also alleged she failed to notify the bank that she was not entitled to the money.
She has since been granted bail for AUD1,000 (RM2,960) with strict conditions to surrender her emergency passport and report to police twice daily as well as not being allowed to apply for another passport nor enter any international airport or port.
Lee, who is currently deferred from her chemical engineering studies, has lived in Australia for five years and lives with her boyfriend, also a student, in the city's west. She is due to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on June 21.
While it may seem like a clear-cut case, Lee might be able to get away with it as magistrate Lisa Stapleton has raised doubts that Lee's alleged use of the money is indeed the "proceeds of crime" as the bank "gave it to her"
"It's not proceeds of crime. It's money we all dream about," Stapleton told the court on Thursday.
"She didn't take it from them. They gave it to her."
Even so, Lee would probably have to spend her entire life paying back the millions she now owes Westpac Bank. Lee is scheduled to appear at Downing Centre Court on 21 June.
RM13.65 million is a lot of money. This genius kid would have to successfully hack Instagram at least 345 times to get THAT much from Mark Zuckerberg: