Charges Dropped Against M'sian Who Went On RM14m Unlawful Shopping Spree

PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian student who was alleged to have spent A$4.6 million (RM14 million) on designer goods with an unlimited overdraft account her bank accidentally gave her, has had all her charges dropped, today.

According to reports by several Australian media outlets, Christine Jiaxin Lee, 21, who is studying at Sydney University was alleged to have splurged the money on designer handbags, clothes, jewellery, mobile phones and a vacuum cleaner over a period of 11 months.

The bank had accidentally given her an unlimited overdraft, and an alert was only triggered when she transferred A$1.15 million to her PayPal account over 14 transactions in one day.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed the charges against Lee had been withdrawn on Monday.

The charges were dropped in light of a similar case, involving a man charged with fraud for withdrawing A$2.1 million (RM6.4 million) from ATMs, that was thrown out of court.

Lee's lawyer, Hugo Aston, told the Sydney Morning Herald his client would be moving back to the country following the outcome of the case.

"She's obviously very relieved that all this trauma is over for her," he said.

Lee had spent vast amounts of money on designer goods from high-end brands including Hermes, Dior, Chanel and Cartier - in some instances, spending more than A$300,000 (RM928,449) in just one day.

The error was picked up by the Westpac bank in April 2015 and a senior manager phoned Lee, demanding she explains where the missing millions were.

The student 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, she was understood to have arranged for herself to be granted an emergency Malaysian passport.

However, she was arrested on May 4, 2016, at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport when she tried to board a flight to Malaysia.

Senior banking officials described the bungle as a "big, fat banking error".

They admitted they were forced to track down more than A$1.3 million (RM4million) Lee allegedly hid in multiple private accounts.

The Daily Telegraph quoted a Westpac spokesman as saying: "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."

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Charges dropped against M'sian who went on RM14m unlawful shopping spree