Says boyfriend wanted to meet people at Ferrari owners' club
A former Commonwealth Bank employee stole more than $2.4 million from a customer account to pay off a mortgage, buy expensive watches and handbags, and put down a deposit for a Ferrari.
During her sentence hearing at the New South Wales District Court on Wednesday, former CBA employee Hsin-Yu Tsai said that greed didn’t spur her to steal, according to The Northern Beaches Review. Rather, Tsai said she stole the money to appease her abusive boyfriend, who Tsai said came up with the idea and at one point requested a Ferrari.
“I guess he wanted to join the Ferrari owners’ club to meet more people,” she said.
Tsai pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge of using a false document, The Northern Beaches Review reported.
While working as a CBA customer service specialist in 2015, Tsai transferred $2.25 million from one customer’s account into a Netbank savings account specifically set up to receive the stolen money. She also withdrew $150,000 in cash from the same customer’s account, The Northern Beaches Review reported.
Tsai used the proceeds of the theft to pay off a Kirribilli home. She eventually sold the home to invest in her current Chippendale apartment.
At the time of the theft, Tsai was earning $68,000 per year from CBA and received $3,000 per month from her parents, who provided ongoing financial support, according to The Northern Beaches Review. She also had access to her parents’ $3 million trust fund, from which she occasionally withdrew money without asking.
But Tsai said she was too frightened to ask her parents for financial help to leave her abusive partner. Instead, she accrued a sum of $150,000 without the partner’s knowledge, she told the court.
“I didn’t ask them because if I tell them the relationship is not going well, I think that would make them worry because I was so far away from them,” Tsai said.
Tsai said that her boyfriend attacked her on multiple occasions during their relationship, The Northern Beaches Review reported. A former partner of the boyfriend submitted a sworn affidavit saying that “he resorts to violence when things don’t go his way.”
However, prosecutor Jennifer Jayasuriya said that Tsai stole the money out of greed, in an effort to fund her lavish lifestyle.
When the relationship ended, she was given $1 million in compensation by her ex-partner and went back to her native Taiwan to see her family and “lay low,” Jayasuriya said. She then returned to Australia and resumed working for CBA.
However, Tsai’s lawyer, Tony Edwards, said she never stole again because she was no longer under the sway of her abusive ex, according to The Northern Beaches Review.
“This person is a very different person to the one who committed these offences five or six years ago,” Edwards said. “Her life is completely and utterly different to what it was then when she was putting deposits on Ferraris and getting bashed by [her partner].”
Jayasuriya said that Tsai was only regretful of the reputational damage she suffered because of the theft.
“You don’t mention the harm you caused your victims,” she said.
“I definitely understand how much anxiety they would go through finding out the money was not there,” Tsai said.
Judge John Pickering will sentence Tsai at a later date, The Northern Beaches Review reported.