The employee said she stole at the behest of her abusive ex-boyfriend
A former Commonwealth Bank employee has been jailed for stealing $3.5 million to fund her lavish lifestyle and appease an abusive ex-boyfriend.
Hsin-Yu Tsai had told the court that greed didn’t spur her to steal millions of dollars from the accounts of CBA customers, according to The Australian. Rather, she said she stole the money to appease her abusive ex.
However, a NSW District Court judge said that Tsai reaped substantial amounts of money herself from the scheme, and that there was no option other than sending her to jail.
Tsai stole $2.4 million from the account of a South African national who lived overseas. The customer did not discover the theft for three years, The Australian reported. Tsai also stole money from another customer. In all, she siphoned $3.5 million from customer accounts.
According to Tsai, shortly after she moved in with her now ex-boyfriend, he began to pressure her to give him lavish gifts. Tsai pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and one count of using false documents to gain advantage by deception, The Australian reported.
Judge John Pickering said that the boyfriend’s behaviour was similar to that of a “domestic predator.” Tsai claimed that her ex was violent and abusive. She said that she stole from the bank because he pressured her to, and that the theft had been his idea, according to The Northern Beaches Review. At one point, Tsai said, her boyfriend pressured her into buying him a $600,000 Ferrari.
“She felt she had to please him and keep him happy because she had no other family to rely on in Sydney,” Pickering said. “Her parents were overseas and she had been isolated from her friends.”
However, Tsai also used the stolen money for her own gain, The Australian reported.
When her relationship with her ex ended, he paid Tsai a $1 million settlement. She used the money for travel, bought designer handbags and purchased property.
However, Pickering noted that Tsai ceased stealing following the breakup, despite her continued employment at CBA giving her the opportunity to continue siphoning money from customer accounts.
“Sometimes the proof is in how you live your life after this,” Pickering said. “...That needs to be balanced by the fact that she made a lot of money, including the million dollars she got at the end of her settlement. But nevertheless, it is a remarkable circumstance that she continued to be employed by the Commonwealth Bank, did not take the opportunity to commit any fraud and placed herself in a completely different life.”
The court was told that Tsai, with her parents’ assistance, had paid back the money she had stolen, The Australian reported.
Pickering said that Tsai had rehabilitated herself, but there was no option but to send her to prison due to the amount she had stolen.
“It would be an extremely rare scenario where someone who defrauded the bank of $3.5 million and was an employee … did not go to jail full-time,” he said.
Tsai was sentenced to three years and three months in prison, The Australian reported. The sentence included a 14-month non-parole period, meaning she will be eligible for release in December 2022.