in just six weeks, the GP made over 60 bank transfers
A GP who was jailed for stealing more than £1 million to fund his gambling habit has been struck off the medical register.
Rumi Chhapia defrauded Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PCCA) out of £1.13 million.
He was one of five directors of the company that oversaw a group of Portsmouth-based medical practices.
After the person in charge of its finances went off sick, the 45-year-old volunteered to manage its accounts.
But in just six weeks, the GP made over 60 bank transfers to his bank account to fund his online gambling habit and spiralling financial debt.
He stole £1.13 million, leaving the company’s finances in disarray and other directors needing therapy.
When a colleague noticed that money was vanishing, Dr Chhapia claimed he was the victim of cybercrime and continued to steal money.
Police investigated and Dr Chhapia admitted: “I f****d up.”
Portsmouth Crown Court heard that his fraud was described as “relatively unsophisticated” as he simply transferred money into accounts in his name.
He later paid the company back £238,000 and after writing letters to them, gambling companies agreed to repay £904,000.
In his court case, the prosecutor Matthew Lawson said that the GP’s gambling addiction was so severe that he remortgaged his home, sold his car and failed to repay his friends who loaned him more than £300,000.
In November 2021, Chhapia admitted fraud by abuse of position and was jailed for three years and four months.
He has now been struck off the medical register.
A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel found Chhapia, from Southsea, had brought the medical profession into disrepute and acted dishonestly.
It stated that he admitted misappropriating funds at a meeting with PCCA directors on September 28, 2020, but Chhapia had been given the opportunity to admit what he had done after being challenged at the start of the month.
Instead, it said, he “lied to his colleagues and continued to make transfers until the day he told the truth”.
The MPTS said he made 64 transactions from the PCCA’s account into his own over 41 days. All money has since been repaid to the PCCA.
According to the panel, “while there were no specific patient safety concerns”, given Chhapia’s conviction and sentence, erasing his registration with immediate effect was necessary to “uphold and maintain professional standards and maintain public confidence in the profession”.
Although Chhapia has been struck off the medical register, he can appeal the verdict.