Surgeon faked document to avoid paying $1m bill

By Patrice Dougan

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

An orthopaedic surgeon racked up bills of more than $1 million, forged a document in a bid to avoid paying, and filed for bankruptcy in a last ditch attempt to escape the huge mountain of debt, a court has been told.

Gregory Dale Finch, who now lives in Western Australia, has been ordered to pay the $1,080,633 he owes to medical supply firm Medtronic NZ for medical parts, items and devices he ordered between 2008 and 2012.

He was also ordered to pay interest on the debt, as well as costs of $57,660 and disbursements of $42,709 by High Court Justice Ailsa Duffy, in a ruling released yesterday.

The decision said Finch had avoided forking out for growing debts over four years, while promising the company he would pay. Medtronic said it continued to supply the surgeon with materials because it did not want to deprive patients of access to its "unique" products.

In court Finch argued the debts were owed by his company and not him personally, prompting both parties to produce invoices. Medtronic said its invoices were always addressed to Finch personally, and previous payments had not come from a business account.

However, Finch denied this, and produced a quote (exhibit H) from the company addressed to Greg Finch Orthopaedics Ltd, which he said proved Medtronic traded with the company.

After forensic analysis of his computer, and investigations into Medtronic's computer, the quote was found to be a fake.

The "findings of forgery and the fabrication of evidence are of the utmost seriousness", Justice Duffy said.

"Given the reliance that Mr Finch has placed on exhibit H and the assertions he made about this document in his affidavit, I am also satisfied that Mr Finch had knowledge of, and some association with this forgery," she said.

Finch filed for bankruptcy after the forgery came to light last year, which Medtronic argued was "an attempt to avoid the continuation of the proceedings, and the exposure of his connection with the fabrication of exhibit H".

Leave was granted to Medtronic in December 2013 to pursue its claim against him.

In her ruling, Justice Duffy said the forgery had caused her to doubt the rest of Finch's evidence.

"Accordingly, I am satisfied that Medtronic supplied products to Mr Finch personally and is yet to receive payment for those supplies. I find, therefore, that it is entitled to the judgment that it seeks against Mr Finch in its prayer for relief."

- APNZ

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