Expensive glitch

Student mistakenly given $3.4 million by bank may not have broken the law in taking it: judge

Christine Jiaxin Lee. (Facebook)

A young woman who was was granted an unlimited overdraft on her savings account in a 2014 banking error, before spending millions of it on luxury items, handbags and renting a penthouse, was told by a judge on Thursday that she may not have broken the law when she took “money we all dream about.”

The 21-year-old chemical engineering student, who lives in Sydney Australia, was arrested on Wednesday night as she attempted to fly home to Malaysia on an emergency passport.

Police prosecutors allege Christine Jiaxin Lee accessed more than AU$4.6 million ($3.4 million) in the wake of the error, and burned through it in a dramatic spending spree between July 2014 and April 2015 — with $2.5 million still outstanding.

According to the police’s allegations, Lee opened an account just before turning 18, in 2012, on which the bank accidentally gave her an unlimited overdraft.

Lee has been charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of a crime.

The judge who presided over Lee’s first court appearance, on Thursday, said “It’s not a proceed of crime, it’s money we all dream about,” before granting bail with strict conditions. Lee’s solicitor Fiona McCarron told the court the police would find it difficult to prove the illegality of Lee’s spending.

Magistrate Lisa Stapleton agreed, saying: “She didn’t take it from them. They gave it to her.”

If that is the case, she will owe the bank the money she spent, but won’t have broken the law, according to Stapleton.

Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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