Just what Dr or­dered

$539k re­cov­ered from hoax medic

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Drugs Scourge - ROSE BREN­NAN

MORE than half-a-mil­lion dol­lars has been clawed back from the as­sets of a fake doc­tor who used a stolen iden­tity to work in NSW hos­pi­tals for more than a decade. The Daily Tele­graph can re­veal the state gov­ern­ment has fi­nally set­tled a le­gal bat­tle against Shyam Acharya, who has been on the run over­seas for nearly two years since his shock­ing scam was ex­posed.

Acharya, pos­ing as qual­i­fied doc­tor Sarang Chi­tale, worked in the pub­lic health sys­tem, treat­ing pa­tients in Wy­ong, Gos­ford, Hornsby, Royal North Shore, Manly and Mona Vale hos­pi­tals from 2003-2014. Acharya fled Aus­tralia be­fore his scam was un­cov­ered in early 2017.

The gov­ern­ment will re­cover about $539,000 but it is un­der­stood Acharya was paid about $1.92 mil­lion by NSW Health dur­ing his scam. In April 2017 he was fined $30,000 over the stolen iden­tity and the state gov­ern­ment vowed to try to re­coup more cash from his ac­counts to re­pay the wages he ef­fec­tively stole from the health sys­tem.

The NSW Crime Com­mis­sion led the pro­ceed­ings against Acharya after a push from Health Min­is­ter Brad Haz­zard, who con­sid­ered the ini­tial penalty woe­fully in­ad­e­quate. “This was op­er­a­tion take back Dr Dodgy’s dol­lars … and now tax­pay­ers are the win­ners here,” Mr Haz­zard said

The gov­ern­ment will get $539,000 from Acharya’s as­sets, in­clud­ing about $400,000 of his share of a home in North Ryde as well as $139,000 in su­per­an­nu­a­tion from an ac­count he set up in the name of Dr Chi­tale.

Acharya’s wife — who in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve knew noth­ing of her hus­band’s fraud — will re­tain half the value of the home.

The pay­ments are due to be pro­cessed on March 13. They re­quire Acharya’s wife to re­mort­gage part of the home, which is es­ti­mated to be worth about $1.3 mil­lion.

It’s be­lieved Acharya spent some time in med­i­cal school in In­dia, but was never qual­i­fied, be­fore he moved to Syd­ney and be­gan his elab­o­rate hoax. He was friends with the real Dr Chi­tale, a qual­i­fied spe­cial­ist now liv­ing in the UK, who also knew noth­ing of his for­mer friend’s fraud.

Fraud­u­lent doc­tor Shyam Acharya worked in NSW for 11 years.

How The Daily Tele­graph broke the shock­ing story.

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