A “fraudulent” psychiatrist spent two decades working for the UK’s National Health Service – earning more than $1 million – after falsifying his qualifications, a court heard.
Jolie Alemi, described as “the most successful forger and fraudster”, is said to have tricked the General Medical Council (GMC) into registering her as a doctor and then worked for various health trusts in the UK.
Manchester Crown Court heard how Iranian-born Alemi, believed to be in her 60s, claimed she qualified as a doctor from Auckland University in 1992.
However, it is alleged that she never actually completed the six-year Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) course and failed her exams before coming to the UK three years later.
Christopher Stables, prosecuting, said: “In short, the prosecution’s case against this defendant is that over a period of approximately 20 years she held herself out and practiced as a doctor, MD, when in fact she never passed or obtained the relevant university qualification and was not a properly qualified doctor at all.
“It identifies the issue at the heart of this case, as you will hear.”
All the charges against Alemi relate to the period from September 1995 to June 2017, after she arrived in the UK from New Zealand.
Stables said Alemi was a “fraud” who secured entry to the GMC’s register of medical practitioners by falsifying her qualifications and other documents.
He explained: “She is, the prosecution say, a most accomplished forger and fraud, but has no qualifications to enable her to be called or in any way properly regarded as a physician.”
Stables said Alemi used deception and fraud to get the job and a “conservative estimate” of the money she fraudulently obtained was the U.S. equivalent of between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.
He said the defendant’s argument was that she was properly qualified and that all the documents proving her qualifications were genuine and therefore she was entitled to the remuneration she received.
Her motive was “irrelevant”, he told the jury, but she “may just have been desperate to be a doctor” and, after failing her exams, falsified her qualifications so she “could practice in an area that interested or stimulated her’.
She may have simply “wanted the status of a doctor”, he said, but it was “unlikely” that the true position would be known and “the fact remains” that the sums she received were a consequence of her dishonesty.
The court heard how Alemi was allowed to join the GMC’s medical register via the Commonwealth Route – a legitimate route closed in 2003 – which can only be achieved if the applicant holds a certain degree known as an MBChB.
However, her application contained spelling and grammatical errors, with a supposed confirmation letter for her degree from the university’s School of Medicine coming from a faculty “registrar” instead of a registrar.
The court that the person who was said to have signed the letter had actually left his post by that time.
Stables said the prosecution’s case was that the documents Alemi sent to the GMC were not genuine and were “forgeries” and were not issued by Oakland University.
The court heard that Alemi first enrolled at the university in 1988 for a BA in human biology, which she obtained after failing some of her exams in 1992.
Stables said that qualification did not make her a doctor and Alemi never obtained an MBChB degree from the University of Auckland after she failed her 2nd year exams and “didn’t go any further”.
He said: “She never qualified as a doctor. And so she forged the degree certificate to submit to the GMC with her application for registration. “All of this” was confirmed by university records, he added.
The court heard that police raided one of her properties in Omagh, Northern Ireland, in 2019 and found a “forger’s kit”.
Stables said an expert witness would give evidence that items found in the house in a briefcase, including dry translation letters bought from British store WH Smith and blank degree documents, were used to make Alemi’s fake university certificate.
The court heard that Alemi became a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2003, passing part one of their examinations after four attempts and part two after three attempts.
However, her membership was terminated within days of her forgeries coming to light, Stables said. The GMC revoked her license to practice as a doctor in November 2018.
Alemi, of Burnley, Lancashire, denies 13 counts of fraud, three counts of obtaining a pecuniary benefit by deception, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged instrument.
The process is expected to last several weeks.
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