Christine Lee granted bail following Sydney Airport arrest four years after $4.6 million was wrongly transferred into her account
A WOMAN who blew more than $3 million after a banking error was told by a magistrate yesterday she may not have broken the law in taking “money we all dream about”.
Christine Lee spent millions on luxury handbags and renting lavish penthouses after Westpac gave her an unlimited overdraft on her savings account in 2014.
On the surface she was a humble 21-year-old Malaysian chemical engineering student but for the next nine months police allege she accessed more than $4.6 million for a dramatic spending spree.
Her boyfriend, Vincent King, yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he was “shocked” at the allegations and had “no idea” his girlfriend was living the high life.
“She is a good girl,” he said.
“That’s big money.”
The free ride came crashing to a halt on Wednesday night, when police arrested Ms Lee trying to fly to Malaysia on an “emergency passport”.
At her first court appearance yesterday, Lee said she was living in a prestigious sub-penthouse on Rider Boulevard in Rhodes, which — according to property records — is rented at $780 a week.
Police prosecutors allege that she churned through millions of dollars between July 2014 and April last year and told the court $3.3 million of the money was “outstanding”.
Magistrate Lisa Stapleton said “that’s a lot of handbags” before disputing the validity of the police case against Lee.
“It’s not a proceed of crime, it’s money we all dream about,’’ she said, before granting Lee bail with strict conditions. Legal Aid solicitor Fiona McCarron told the court police would find it difficult to prove Lee’s spending was illegal.
Ms Stapleton agreed, saying: “She didn’t take it from them. They gave it to her.”
The magistrate said, if that were the case, then Lee would owe the money to the bank but she would not have broken the law.
Ms Stapleton said Lee was not a flight risk because her passport had been surrendered and granted her bail to live in her boyfriend’s unit, also in Rhodes.
Lee spent the night in custody because Mr King could not produce identification in English to prove his identity.
She will appear before Waverley Local Court again today to resubmit accurate bail information.
Ms Stapleton said the case was more complicated than it first appeared after hearing Lee was travelling on an emergency passport because “she lost her passport” and needed to get home in a hurry.
Federal police arrested the 21-year-old about 8.25pm on Wednesday and took her to Mascot police station where she was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said the CBD fraud unit investigated the money transfer after the error was made