Malaysian woman charged over $4.6m Australian 'handbag spree' using money bank mistakenly gave her

A Malaysian student has been charged with fraud after she allegedly spent US$3.4 million (S$4.6 million) that her bank mistakenly gave her.
A Malaysian student has been charged with fraud after she allegedly spent US$3.4 million (S$4.6 million) that her bank mistakenly gave her.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian police have charged a 21-year-old woman with fraud after she allegedly spent US$3.4 million (S$4.6 million) that her bank mistakenly gave her, with much of the money reportedly lavished on handbags.

The woman, named in Sydney media as Malaysian chemical engineering student Christine Jiaxin Lee, reportedly splashed out on luxury apartment rentals, designer bags and other high-end items after her Australian bank gave her an unlimited overdraft on her savings account.

"That's a lot of handbags," magistrate Lisa Stapleton said Thursday (May 5), according to Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Police arrested the woman as she attempted to board a flight to Malaysia on Wednesday night.

They said she had been charged with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

 

"Police will allege the woman obtained an illegal financial advantage when she overdrew her account by A$4.6 million (US$3.4 million)," they said in a statement.

Reports said that Lee, who has been released on bail, allegedly spent the money between July 2014 and April 2015, and that some A$3.3 million (S$3.3 million) had not been recovered.

Stapleton questioned whether the cash could be considered a "proceed of crime", saying "it's money we all dream about".

The case has been adjourned until June 21.