'Ferrari' prompts millions stolen from CBA

·2-min read

A Sydney man wanted a "very expensive Ferrari" so emotionally and financially pressured his girlfriend working at the Commonwealth Bank to swindle millions from a customer's account, a court was told.

Junchi Ma, 31, has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges including dealing with the proceeds of crime which he intended to conceal and recklessly doing so.

The crown case is Ma engaged in a joint criminal enterprise with Hsin-Yu "Angie" Tsai between September 2015 and January 2016 in stealing $2.25 million from Julius Quan, who had moved from Australia to South Africa.

Prosecutor Michael Smith said in his opening address in the NSW District Court on Thursday that the Pymble man and Tsai spent weeks working out how to move the money.

"One of the catalysts of that discussion was Mr Ma's desire to purchase a very expensive Ferrari," Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said he expected the jury to hear that Tsai "agreed to participate in the scheme because she had been under emotional and financial pressure over a lengthy period".

While Ma was completing a masters of applied finance at Macquarie University Tsai was working as a customer service specialist at the major bank in Sydney's Chinatown from 2015.

Her position gave her access to internal computer systems and customers' accounts, and in the five days leading up to the alleged theft, Tsai accessed Quan's profile about 17 times.

Mr Quan had deposited about $2.4 million over the years, and discovered he had about $13,000 left in 2019 when he returned to Australia. He immediately notified police.

Bank records show Tsai removed the millions from Mr Quan's account on September 3, 2015. She put aside about $150,000 for herself and Ma is not charged over that amount.

The couple's alleged elaborate scheme involved creating a false account in Ma's friend's name minutes before the large sum was deposited.

This money was transferred around various accounts until they hit a roadblock, and the cash was sent offshore.

Four days later Ma put a $10,000 deposit down and signed a contract for his luxury sports car.

The millions was then transferred back into Ma's grandmother's account, which he gained authority of through fraudulent documentation, the court was told.

The Crown case hinges on Ma's role and his knowledge regarding the extensive movement of money.

Tsai has already been sentenced for her part in what the Crown calls the joint criminal enterprise after pleading guilty.

Winston Terracini SC is due to give his opening address in defence of Ma on Friday.

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