As Josh Taylor reported for The Guardian yesterday, in March 2022, Thevamanogari Manivel was arrested at Melbourne Airport. She was allegedly carrying a one-way ticket to Malaysia and nearly $11,000 in cash. This arrest was the result of a chain of events initiated almost a year earlier when Crypto.com mistakenly transferred over AU$10 million into Manivel’s Commonwealth Bank account. The cryptocurrency exchange only discovered this error seven months later during an internal audit.
The Guardian reports that Manivel was later sentenced after pleading guilty to recklessly dealing with the proceeds of a crime. Her sentence included an 18-month community corrections order, with six months of intensive compliance and unpaid community work. This was on top of the 209 days she had already spent in custody.
The Guardian notes that Crypto.com’s mistake garnered global attention, especially since it happened during a volatile period for the cryptocurrency market. Manivel had moved to Australia in 2015 from Malaysia to escape a controlling relationship and had plans to bring her three children to the country. She worked in various roles, including as a motel cleaner and a disability support worker.
In 2020, Manivel met Jatinder Singh, who was interested in cryptocurrency investments. Per The Guardian’s report, Singh opened an account on Crypto.com and attempted to transfer money using Manivel’s bank account. The payment was rejected by Crypto.com because the name on the bank account did not match the name on the Crypto.com account. A Bulgaria-based worker purportedly made the AU$10.47 million error while processing a refund in an Excel spreadsheet.
Singh discovered the error the next day and advised Manivel to transfer the funds to a joint Westpac account. The Guardian states that between the time of the transfer and Manivel’s arrest, significant assets were acquired, including four houses, and $4 million was transferred to an account in Malaysia.
The Guardian also mentions that an audit by Crypto.com in December 2021 led to the discovery of the mistake, and the company began pursuing the return of the funds. Manivel had ignored multiple communications from Commonwealth Bank, thinking they were scams.
Earlier this month, Manivel entered a guilty plea for recklessly handling the proceeds of a crime, after initially being charged with theft. She received an 18-month community corrections order as her sentence. This order mandates six months of stringent compliance and unpaid community service, in addition to the 209 days she had already served in detention.
Judge Martine Marich, during sentencing, noted that Manivel’s actions turned cynical once she was informed of the error by Commonwealth Bank. Judge Marich also mentioned that the legal proceedings had complicated Manivel’s visa process. Manivel is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science.
The court learned that Manivel and Singh had ended their relationship. Singh is set to appear in court for a pre-sentencing hearing in October, having entered a guilty plea on a single charge of theft.
The court was also informed that the majority of the funds had been reclaimed through civil actions initiated by Crypto.com and that Manivel had been fully cooperative.
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