Court sessions continue in October for an Australian couple who received AU$10 million in error from Crypto.com.
Thevamanogari Manivel and her partner Jatinder Singh, are charged with theft by Victoria’s County Court, after receiving a staggering AU$10.5 million in error from Crypto.com. Rather than reporting the mistake, the couple chose to spend the funds, setting the stage for a high-profile legal battle.
In March 2022, Thevamanogari Manivel was apprehended by the police while trying to board a one-way flight to Malaysia at Melbourne Airport. She had nearly $11,000 in cash with her.
The Story of the AU$10 Million Mistake
Almost a year before this, in an oversight, Crypto.com had mistakenly deposited over AU$10 million into the Commonwealth Bank account of the 41-year-old disability support worker. At that time, the exchange had failed to detect the error, only becoming aware of it seven months later.
It was during an audit conducted just before Christmas that the company discovered it was missing $10 million.
The exchange noticed that they had mistakenly transferred an astounding $10.5 million to a Melbourne resident in May 2021, who had initially requested a mere $100 refund. The recipient, Thevamanogari Manivel, did not report the error and proceeded to use and transfer the funds.
As a result, on February 7th, the company issued freezing orders against the woman’s bank account.
Crypto.com made global headlines last year when its multimillion-dollar error came to light through court documents. The company had attempted to freeze Manivel’s assets, sparking widespread attention. This incident unfolded during a period of heightened uncertainty in the digital assets market, occurring just months prior to the highly publicized collapse of FTX.
About the Australian Couple
Manivel, who arrived in Australia from Malaysia in 2015 to escape a controlling relationship. She Initially settled in Hay, New South Wales, with the goal of eventually bringing her three children to join her.
To secure their future, she took on various jobs, including motel cleaning, cashiering, farm work, and disability care. In 2020, she met Jatinder Singh, her partner, who had an interest in digital assets.
Singh attempted to use Manivel’s bank account for digital asset transactions on Crypto.com, but the payment was rejected due to a name mismatch.
How it Happened
A local news outlet reported on the incident, citing Crypto.com Compliance Officer, Michi Chan Fores:
A worker in Bulgaria, who processed the refund, had entered the wrong numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. It was a manual process and the records were being kept in Excel.
Apparently the employee mistakenly input the account number into the refund amount within an Excel spreadsheet. Consequently, what was supposed to be a $100 refund turned into a $10.47 million transfer into Manivel’s account.
Upon processing the refund payment request, it was forwarded to Crypto.com’s payment provider in Australia. The provider initiated the transfer of the funds into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia account, which was registered under Singh’s name. However, it’s worth noting that the transfer might have been directed to Manivel’s account due to Singh’s utilization of her bank card for digital asset purchases, as suggested by the court.
Court Hearings and Fate of the Funds
During their virtual court appearance, the couple claimed to believe that they had acquired the funds through a contest. Contrarily, the exchange’s compliance officer stated that no such competition existed, and Crypto.com had not dispatched any push notifications to users regarding competition winnings.
Victoria Police Senior Constable Conor Healy told the court that the couple used the funds to buy four properties, and AU$4 million of it was transferred to a Malaysian bank account. The remaining portion was allocated to the purchase of vehicles, art, and furniture.
Although a significant portion has been returned, an outstanding balance of approximately AU$3 million remains, leading to ongoing civil action aimed at freezing assets and recovering funds from relatives who received gifts.
Court Sessions Continue
As reported by local media, Manivel entered a plea of not guilty to three charges, which encompass dealing with the proceeds of a crime and theft related to withdrawing money from Commonwealth Bank. In contrast, Singh pleaded not guilty to two charges, specifically theft related to withdrawing funds received from Crypto.com through the bank.
This month, Manivel found herself in the spotlight as she received her sentence, having previously pleaded guilty to recklessly handling the proceeds of a crime. Her punishment includes an 18-month community corrections order, with the first six months requiring intensive compliance and unpaid community work. Notably, this sentence is in addition to the 209 days she had already spent in custody.
Meanwhile, Singh’s plea trial is scheduled for October 23rd.