Two Malaysian women who were caught with A$1.34 million (RM3.82 million) in cash, described in court as proceeds from organised crime, have been sentenced to more than three years in jail.
A court in Perth, Western Australia, was told the women were arrested in June last year after the cash was exposed to a train official, and they then tried to tell police the money was from prostitution and gambling.
Oon Yoke Peng and Yew Han Yueh, both 35, had travelled from Sydney to Perth to collect the money with the intention of returning to Sydney and delivering it to another person, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.
Yesterday, the WA District Court heard that when they tried to buy train tickets to return to Sydney, their credit card was rejected and the bag of cash was opened in full view of a train official.
“The train official was surprised at the cash they saw (and) contacted the police,” SMH quoted judge Michael Bowden as saying.
It said that Hew and Oon, who pleaded guilty to possessing money that was the proceeds of crime, required an interpreter during the court proceedings.
Oon was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail, and Hew to three years and three months.
Both must serve at least half their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
SMH said the court heard that Oon recruited Hew, telling her she could make A$4,000 while Oon was to receive A$20,000. But neither knew how the money was obtained or who it was going to.
The report said Hew had gone to Australia from Malaysia hoping to earn money to send back to her family but struggled to find work. Her husband then left her and she turned to methylamphetamine use, it said.
“You were destitute and in desperate need of money,” it quoted Bowden as saying.
It was revealed that Oon had two children by the time she was 18, divorced at 19 and went to Australia in 2016. However, her refugee application was refused and she could not find work.
Bowden accepted that Oon and Hew were remorseful, had no prior convictions and would face additional hardship in prison by being away from family.
But he also said that general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor, according to the report.
“People commit crimes to obtain money and your facilitating in the laundering of that money makes it harder to detect those persons,” Bowden said.
The court heard that two other people had previously been sentenced 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 for five years and nine months. Chieng Tan, who hired and drove a car, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.