Charges dropped against Malaysian student who went on $4.6m spree after bank error

 |Dec 1, 2017
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A Malaysian student who was alleged to have spent $4.6 million on designer goods — after the bank accidentally gave her an unlimited overdraft — has had all her charges dropped.

The Daily Telegraph reported that prosecutors dropped charges against the chemical engineering student after a similar case involving a man charged with fraud for withdrawing $2.1 million from ATMs was thrown out of court.

It was alleged Christine Jiaxin Lee, a 21-year-old Malaysian resident at Sydney University, realised she had an unlimited overdraft in July 2014. She went on a multimillion-dollar spending spree for 11 months.

Her purchases included designer handbags, clothes, jewellery, mobile phones and a vacuum cleaner and she was believed to have stocked up on Hermes, Chanel and Dior products before her bank, Westpac, caught on.

Her lawyer told the Daily Telegraph Lee would be going back to Malaysia.

“She is happy it is behind her, and to move on with her life,” he 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 is unclear whether the seized items will be returned to Lee.

The error was only discovered by the bank in April 2015 and a senior manager phoned Lee, demanding she explain where the missing millions were.

She had previously claimed she believed the money had been transferred into her account by her parents.

When she found out police were trying to contact her about the money, Lee is understood to have arranged for herself to be granted an emergency Malaysian passport.

Prosecutors alleged she did this so she could leave the country undetected.

Lee was arrested in May 2015 at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport when she tried to board a flight to Malaysia.

Senior banking officials told the Daily Telegraph the bungle was a “big, fat banking error”. They admitted they were forced to track down more than $1.3 million Lee allegedly hid in multiple 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.”