The Melbourne couple who mistakenly sent almost $6.6 million, or 10.5 million Australian dollars, on Crypto.com in 2021 is arguing in court that they thought the funds were won via a competition.
Thevamanogari Manivel and her husband, Jatinder Singh, are currently facing a trial in the Victoria Supreme Court over theft charges, among others, after the duo allegedly went on a spending spree with Crypto.com’s funds last year.
Appearing via video link in Melbourne magistrates court on Oct. 11, Manivel and Singh pleaded not guilty to their respective charges, with the defense being that Singh had thought he had won a contest from Crypto.com and had told his wife as such.
The funds were initially sent to Manivel’s bank account in May 2021, with Crypto.com compliance officer Michi Chan Fores telling the court that the issue arose from an employee based in Bulgaria entering incorrect details into an Excel spreadsheet.
The Crypto.com account itself belonged to Singh, but the funds went to his wife’s bank account, as he had been using her bank cards to purchase crypto. The firm did not realize its mistake until an audit occurred in December.
Singh claims that he thought he had won the money as he had previously received a notification from the company regarding a competition. However, Fores denied the existence of such competition and outlined that Crypto.com did not send any notifications to tell users about competition winnings.
Their charges slightly differ, as Manivel is charged with theft for withdrawing the funds from her Commonwealth bank account, negligently dealing with proceeds of crime and trying to flee the country.
In March, Manivel was arrested at Melbourne airport, after it was alleged that she was trying to fly home to Malaysia with roughly 11,000 AUD.
She was granted bail on strict conditions in the latest hearing, having to surrender her passport and being barred from attending any points of departure.
Manivel’s lawyer argues that she was unaware of criminal charges being brought against her when trying to fly to Malaysia.
Singh is primarily facing theft charges for withdrawing Crypto.com’s funds from the bank. Moving forward, Manivel and Singh are set for a directions hearing in the county court on Nov. 8.
A police officer told the court the funds were allegedly used to buy four houses, vehicles, gifts for relatives, art and some furniture, while 4 million AUD was also sent to a bank account in Malaysia.
One of their four houses included a 1.35 million AUD five bedroom property in Craigieburn, which the Victoria Supreme Court promptly ordered to be sold and the money returned to Crypto.com.
As it stands, around $7 million has been paid back, with $3 million still to be accounted for. Civil action is reportedly underway to freeze properties and get the remaining funds back.