The Times of India
Indian-origin psychiatrist arrested in NZ over identity theft
Aug 6, 2015

Mohamed Siddiqui

Mohamed Shakeel Siddiqui appears via audio visual link from prison to Hamilton District Court.

MELBOURNE: An Indian-origin psychiatrist from the US and practicing in New Zealand has been arrested by authorities over an alleged identity theft to work in the country though he says he is a victim of “clerical error”.

Mohamed Shakeel Siddiqui has been charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, with the police alleging he stole the credentials of a doctor in Illinois with a similar name — Mohammed Shafi Siddiqui, New Zealand Herald reported on Thursday.

Siddiqui, originally from India, holds a degree of Philosophy from University of Arizona besides a degree in Psychiatry and Neurology from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

He had sent his CV from his Lafayette, Indiana, through a recruitment agency responsible for vetting his credentials. His information was then passed on to the New Zealand Medical Council that carried out a more rigorous check, before giving him a year’s contract to work as a practising psychiatrist with the Waikato district health board (DHB).

The DHB claims his colleagues became suspicious about his professional behaviour and reported it to their manager. They carried out their own inquiries before being alerted by Siddiqui that he was returning home to India to be with his terminally sick mother.

Siddiqui’s lawyer Kerry Burroughs said an integral part of his client’s contract was that he had to have a supervisor and that in his case, he was given senior Waikato DHB psychiatrist Dr Andrew Darby.

Burroughs cited a report penned by Darby in May in which he said that Siddiqui had been performing well, receiving “exceeds expected standard” in most areas, including clinical knowledge, diagnostic skills, recognising limits, professional knowledge, reliability and professional manner.

He said that things began to go downhill for his client in July, after Siddiqui sent “all his managers” an email outlining his safety concerns about the admission of an acute patient, with Dr Darby withdrawing his supervisory role the very next day and meaning Siddiqui can no longer work.

By then, Siddiqui had heard that his mother’s illness had worsened and that she was now terminal. He wanted to get back urgently and emailed his managers that he wanted to end his contract and return to India to his sick mother.

He, however, was arrested two days later.

Burroughs said his client is who he says he is and it was simply a clerical error.

He did not comment why or how his client came to be in possession of the practising certificate — or physician and surgeon’s licence — issued by the state of Illinois’s department of financial and professional regulation on September 13, 2012, or if it was his client’s.