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Auckland Doctor Found Guilty Of Fraud

Media Release

A guilty verdict for an Auckland doctor charged with fraud and wilfully attempting to obstruct the course of justice is a warning to health practitioners the Ministry of Health is vigilant when it comes to protecting tax payer's money.

>From February 17, 1998 to June 9, 2000 Auckland doctor Christie Arianesan Philipiah used documents to defraud the health system, said Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General Debbie Chin.

The doctor used general medical services claim forms to obtain money he was not entitled to. He was also found guilty of obstructing the course of justice by falsifying patient records and getting patients to write letters of support that were untrue when Health Benefits, a business arm of the Ministry of Health, started an investigation into his claims.

Further to the criminal convictions, the Ministry of Health sought to recover in excess of $850,000 in respect to inappropriate claims. Ms Chin said $850,000 would fund around 300 average operations.

"The Ministry of Health has taken this issue very seriously and the guilty verdict should act as a warning to health practitioners that the Ministry takes a vigorous approach to anyone found abusing the system."

Dr Philipiah is the 28th health provider prosecuted by Health Benefits for fraudulent claiming since 1994.

The prosecution follows the successful prosecution of directors of a drug wholesale company last year for a $5.5 million Government Medical subsidy fraud. The managing director was sent to prison for three years.

Ms Chin said as the system relies heavily on honesty fraud is always a risk, however we have a sophisticated computer profiling system and highly skilled investigators and techniques.

"Despite the number of prosecutions the Ministry believes the vast majority of health professionals claiming Government subsidies are honest."

ENDS

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