Malaysian police have charged two people over the alleged theft of around $35,000 (110,600 Malaysian ringgits) from the bank accounts of four passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
HSBC bank officer Nur Shila Kanan, 33, is facing 12 charges after allegedly transferring money between the passengers’ accounts, Assistant Commissioner Izany Abdul Ghany of the Kuala Lumpur Commercial Crime Investigation Department told CNN.
Nur Shila’s husband, Basheer Ahmad Maula Sahul Hameed, a 33-year-old mechanic, is facing four counts of allegedly using a debit and other cards belonging to one of the passengers to withdraw money from an ATM.
Funds were also allegedly transferred to a fifth account belonging to Pakistani man Ali Faran Khan, who is still being sought by police.
Officers detained Nur Shila and her husband last Thursday after being alerted to the suspected fraud by HSBC bank officials in Malaysia.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. They’ve been released on bail and ordered to surrender their passports.
According to state news agency Bernama, their next hearing is on August 25.
It’s alleged that between May 14 and July 8, Nur Shila transferred $12,600 (40,000 ringgits) from the account of Malaysian passenger Hue Pui Heng to the account of Chinese passenger Tian Jun Wei, according to Bernama.
The bank officer is accused of then using fake documents to apply for a new debit card in Tian’s name, and making applications to transfer money from savings accounts belonging to Chinese passengers Ju Kun and Malaysian flight attendant Tan Size Hiang, Bernama said.
The first of the alleged offenses was committed two months after flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Extensive land and sea searches have failed to find any sign of the Boeing 777-200ER, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.
Officials believe the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, west of Australia, while on autopilot.
New attempts to find the plane are expected to start in September.
Australian officials have appointed Dutch company Fugro Survey to conduct the search.
The company will use two ships equipped with towed deep-water vehicles, as well as side-scan sonar, multibeam echo sounders and video cameras, to search an area of 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) and depths of up to 7,000 meters (four miles).