A man has admitted faking psychiatrist qualifications to get a job with the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) worth more than $165,000.
The eight-day trial of Mohamed Shakeel Siddiqui, 55, was due to kick off in the Hamilton District Court today, but he had a change of heart minutes before it was to start.
He admitted stealing the credentials of another doctor in America with a similar name, but Siddiqui's lawyer Jonathan Temm said the Crown accepted that Siddiqui is a qualified doctor - just not one with psychiatric qualifications.
Siddiqui originally faced 13 charges of forging documents, altering documents and obtaining by deception.
Concerns about his behaviour were raised by his supervisor and an investigation led to the police charging him with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, relating to his employment between January and July 2015.
Siddiqui pleaded guilty to forging two documents between August 12, 2014 and January 22, 2015 to obtain employment at WDHB; obtaining a NZ Medical Council vocational licence to be hired as a psychiatrist on January 19, 2015; using a title (psychiatrist) to imply that he was a health practitioner between January 19 to July 14, 2015 and obtaining by deception a job at WDHB on January 19, 2015.
Court documents show Siddiqui used the credentials of Dr Mohammed Shafiuddin Siddiqui who is an assistant professor in psychiatry at Southern Illinois University of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois.
Siddiqui used his Department of Financial and Professional Regulation certificate licence and his American Board of Psychiatrists and Neurologists certificate to get his job in New Zealand.
He then proffered the documents to the International Medical Recruitment (IMR) - which is based in Australia - the Waikato DHB and the Medical Council of New Zealand.
He also faked referees stating that he had worked at a number of hospitals in the United States.
The medical council received Siddiqui's fake locum registration from IMR in September 2014.
Three months later the medical council received a vocational application but noticed a name discrepancy between the real Dr Siddiqui and the fake Siddiqui.
However, to satisfy the query, Siddiqui forwarded a fake email to show that there had been a spelling error.
His application for a temporary locum position and practising certificate were granted on January 21, 2015, but he began working at the DHB two days earlier, on January 19.
When beginning at the DHB, Siddiqui was a consultant psychiatrist for the crisis assessment and home based treatment service, signing various documents and having a personalised stamp.
He was given a salary of $165,250 but was also given various other allowances.
Siddiqui also made various expense claims totalling $4883.64, along with relocation costs including flights that are still to be confirmed.
The medical council granted him a new practising certificate in May 2015 allowing him to practice as a specialist, however he was still under supervision.
As part of his job, Siddiqui was tasked with assessing and interacting with mental health patients, including some in secure facilities, and prescribing various medications.
His supervisor, Dr Andrew Darby, expressed concerns to the medical council regarding his competency on July 17, 2015 and withdrew his agreement to be his supervisor.
That meant Siddiqui was no longer able to practice and was immediately stood down.
The DHB sought to meet with Siddiqui to get him to explain but he used a variety of excuses to avoid the meetings.
The DHB's employee relations health and safety manager began googling his credentials and uncovered his fraud and he was subsequently fired.
The Crown says if it wasn't for Siddiqui's fraudulent actions, he would not have been recruited by IMR, have gained a job at the DHB or been able to enter New Zealand.
Siddiqui was today convicted by Judge Glen Marshall and remanded in custody for sentencing next month.
Waikato DHB's director of people and performance Greg Peploe said Siddiqui was employed after coming through a "reputable recruiting agency who would have carried a credential check".
"The Medical Council of New Zealand granted him provisional vocational registration. The DHB employed him verifying his credentials and obtaining the three referee checks.
"All these checks by a number of organisations failed to pick up the issue, which indicates the degree of planning and the complicity of others in the United States in a sophisticated scam."
Peploe said at the time, Siddiqui was acting under the supervision of a senior psychiatrist who raised concerns about his professional ability, which ultimately led to his withdrawing of the supervision and immediate withdrawal of his ability to practise.
"Supervision by a senior psychiatrist is a requirement of the Medical Council of New Zealand with someone with a provisional vocational registration.
"Waikato DHB as part of an internal investigation identified a number of inconsistencies, including with his referees and work history.
"These concerns were escalated to the police. We are pleased to see after a significant period that our actions in doing so have been validated."