A 21-year-old woman was arrested by Australian federal police on May 4 after allegedly buying millions of dollars' worth of handbags and other luxury items using money that her bank accidentally deposited into her account.
Christine Jiaxin Lee, a chemical engineering student and Malaysian national, received the windfall in 2012 when the overdraft limit on her Westpac bank account was mistakenly increased to $4.6 million. Lee now owes her bank $3.3 million, according to the Daily Mail. The majority of the money was spent on luxury goods like designer handbags.
Lee was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Upon learning that the police were seeking her, Lee reportedly obtained an emergency Malaysian passport so that she could flee the country, according to The Sun. The conditions of her bail dictate that she forfeit her passport and report to Sydney police twice a day. She was also ordered to stay with her boyfriend in the suburb of Rhodes and is not allowed to apply for another passport.
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Lee's attorney, Fiona McCarron, said authorities would have a hard time proving that Lee's use of the money was illegal. Magistrate Lisa Stapleton reportedly agreed, saying that the bank "gave it to her," the Daily Mail notes.
"[S]he wouldn't necessarily have broken the law," Stapleton said, adding that "it's not the proceeds of a crime. It's money we all dream about."
McCarron added that Lee did not obtain her passport with the intention of fleeing the country but had simply lost her original one. According to her, Lee wanted to visit her parents and needed a passport to do so.
Prosecuting attorney Marc Turner pushed back, saying Lee applied for the emergency passport within weeks of learning that a warrant had been issued for her arrest. He added that Lee avoided contact with both her bank and the police, who repeatedly tried to call her about the money.
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Lee's boyfriend of 18 months, Vincent King, who arrived at the court to bail his girlfriend out, told reporters that he was unaware of the money and had never seen her purchase luxury items. He reportedly described the third-year engineering student as a "good girl."
Lee is scheduled to appear in court again on June 21.