The Malaysian student who splurged on $3.4 million worth of designer goods after her bank accidentally gave her a virtually unlimited overdraft is now completely off the hook after no deception was proven on her part.
Back in 2012, 21-year-old Christine Jiaxin Lee’s Westpac bank account got an unlimited overdraft due to a processing error. When the Sydney University engineering student realized in July 2014 that she had access to an unlimited amount of cash, she spent the next 11 months on a multimillion-dollar spending spree.
Before Westpac noticed her withdrawals, Lee purchased mobile phones, designer handbags, clothes, jewelry and a vacuum cleaner. Among her extravagant purchases were Hermes, Chanel, and Dior products.
The bank identified the error in April 2015 and Lee was soon contacted by a senior manager, who demanded she return the massive withdrawals.
Lee reportedly arranged to be granted an emergency Malaysian passport when she realized the authorities were on to her. She was arrested at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport as she was boarding a flight to Malaysia in May 2015.
According to senior bank officials, they were able to track down around $1 million in multiple private accounts.
“Westpac has taken all possible steps to recover its funds, including taking civil action against Ms. Lee,” a Westpac spokesman said in a statement. “The criminal charges against Lee were a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and police, and we respect their decision.”
Her charges, however, were dropped after a court dismissed a similar case involving a man charged with fraud for withdrawing $1.6 million from ATMs, News.com.au reports. After the favorable outcome of the case, Lee is expected to return to Malaysia soon.
“She is happy it is behind her, and to move on with her life,” Lee’s lawyer Hugo Aston was quoted as saying. “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 was not reported if the purchased items seized from Lee during the investigation will be returned to her.
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