A WOMAN who forged her medical qualifications to obtain senior positions within the NHS as a hospital psychiatrist has been sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to seven years behind bars after being found guilty of 20 offences, including fraud and forgery.
In an investigation led by Cumbria Police and supported by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, Zholia Alemi was found to have fraudulently obtained in excess of £1 million from the NHS during the 22 years that she worked within a number of UK health bodies posing as a qualified psychiatrist.
In 1995, Alemi presented to the General Medical Council, supplying documents and information in support of her application to obtain UK doctor registration. These documents included a degree certificate from the University of Auckland and a letter written by the faculty registrar confirming her qualifications.
Investigations subsequently revealed that this documentation was completely false and that she had subsequently secured positions in a number of NHS bodies within the UK over the course of the next 22 years – all of which were based on her false and forged qualifications.
NHS Counter Fraud Authority investigators worked extensively with partners in the Cumbria Police to enable the Crown Prosecution Service to put evidence before the court to show the full extent of Alemi’s offending. Specialist financial investigators have worked to identify and restrain assets owned by Alemi and will now use their powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that money defrauded by Alemi is returned to the NHS for patient care.
Richard Rippin, head of operations at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, said: “Zholia Alemi has deceived the NHS over a considerable period of time and practised under forged and false qualifications, with the potential for harm to patients. This outcome and sentence is warmly welcomed as a suitable punishment for this appalling deception, as well as an acknowledgement of the substantial amount of NHS money she has fraudulently obtained during the period of employment, which we will now take steps to recover.”
Rippin added: “This case has proven to be an excellent example of how effective partnership working across multiple agencies is key for bringing to justice those who seek to deceive and defraud the NHS. I commend those in the Cumbria Police who have worked openly and collaboratively with ourselves, the Crown Prosecution Service, the General Medical Council and all affected NHS bodies to bring this case to such a successful conclusion.”
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