PETALING JAYA: Two Malaysian women were jailed after pleading guilty to possessing over A$1.34mil (RM3.82mil) in cash derived from crime.
Oon Yoke Peng and Hew Han Yueh, both 35, tried to smuggle the money out of Western Australia, but their luck ran out after they accidentally displayed a bagful of cash in front of a train official.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the women travelled from Sydney to Perth to collect the money with the intention of returning to Sydney and delivering it to another person in June last year.
But when they tried to purchase train tickets to Sydney, their credit card failed to work, and the bag of cash was opened in full view of a train official, the WA District Court heard on Thursday.
“The train official was surprised at the cash (and) contacted the police, ” judge Michael Bowden was quoted saying.
The women travelled by train to Kalgoorlie where they were arrested, and then tried to tell police they earned it from prostitution and gambling.
Oon and Hew, who pleaded guilty to possessing money that was the proceeds of crime, required an interpreter during the court proceedings.
The Australian daily said Oon was jailed three years and nine months and Hew three years and three months.
The court heard Oon recruited Hew, telling her she could make A$4, 000 (RM11, 400) while Oon was to receive A$20, 000 (RM57, 000).
The daily reported that Hew went to Australia hoping to earn money to send back to her family but struggled to find work. Her husband then left her and she turned to methamphetamine use.
“You were destitute and in desperate need of money, ” Bowden was quoted saying.
Oon had two children by the time she was 18, divorced at 19 and came to Australia in 2016.
However, her refugee application was refused and she had difficulty finding work on a tourist visa, the court heard.
Bowden accepted the women were remorseful, had no prior records, and would face additional hardship in prison by being away from their family.
However, he also said general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor.
“People commit crimes to obtain money and your facilitating in the laundering of that money makes it harder to detect those persons, ” said Bowden.
The daily noted that two other people were jailed for their roles in the crime.
Tong Tan, who was sent to Australia to facilitate the money laundering and provided the cash to the women, was jailed five years and nine months.
Chieng Tan, who hired and drove a car, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.