Bogus Kiwi psychiatrist Zholia Alemi, who forged Auckland University degree, jailed for seven years

Zholia Alemi fraudulently pocketed £1.3 million (NZD$2,533,167.00) in wages from the NHS.
Zholia Alemi fraudulently pocketed £1.3 million (NZD$2,533,167.00) in wages from the NHS. Photo credit: Supplied

A Kiwi woman who fraudulently practised as a qualified psychiatrist in the United Kingdom for 22 years has been jailed. 

Zholia Alemi will spend seven years in prison after a jury found her guilty of a "deliberate and wicked deception" that allowed her to treat hundreds of patients across the UK. 

Alemi, who is believed to be 60, pocketed £1.3 million (NZD$2,533,167.00) in wages from the NHS after she forged an Auckland University degree certificate she used to register with the UK's General Medical Council. 

At Alemi's sentencing hearing at the Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday (local time), Judge Hilary Manley said Alemi's offences "strike so very deeply at the heart of healthcare provisions in this country".

Judge Manley called for a "thorough, open, transparent" inquiry into how the General Medical Council registered Alemi as a doctor when documents submitted by her in 1995 were "clearly false".

The BBC reports the bogus psychiatrist studied to be a doctor at Auckland University in the early 1990s but failed to finish her course, however, she managed to work as a consultant clinical psychiatrist. 

Christopher Stables KC, prosecuting, said Alemi was born in Iran but was living in Auckland in the early 1990s and after failing her medical degree then moved to the UK. 

The Manchester Crown Court heard Alemi "practised continuously in a very large number of posts literally from one end of the country to another" and was able to detain patients against their will and prescribe powerful drugs.

Alemi was convicted of 13 counts of fraud, three counts of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a false instrument following a four-week trial. 

The Guardian reports the General Medical Council has since apologised for allowing Alemi to join its register in the 1990s but says its processes were "far stronger" now.

"It is clear that in this case the steps taken almost three decades ago were inadequate. We are confident, 27 years on, our systems are robust."

Alemi's sentencing comes after an investigative journalist revealed the truth in 2018, when Alemi was convicted of attempting to forge the will and power of attorney of an 84-year-old widow, one of her patients.