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GP faces jail time after embezzling more than £1m from care group

‘Abuse of trust’ seen as significant due to Rumi Chhapia’s position and the amount of money, says prosecutor

Sam Hancock
Wednesday 22 September 2021 22:08 BST
Chhapia arrives at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday
Chhapia arrives at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (PA)

A Portsmouth GP has been told he could spend time behind bars after he admitted to defrauding a healthcare group out of £1.1m in just two months.

Rumi Chhapia, 45, is accused of taking advantage of the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PPCA) group’s finances after his colleague went off sick and handed him access to crucial business accounts, prosecutors say.

The doctor appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, charged with fraud, where he pleaded guilty to the single offence.

Lucy Linington, prosecuting, told the court that in “a 41-day period, this defendant embezzled £1,133,704.50”.

He has since repaid £233,000, magistrates were told.

Ms Linington also revealed that Dr Chhapia, of Lennox Road South, Southsea, was an appointed director of PPCA when he moved money from its account into his own, between 20 August and 30 September 2020.

The “abuse of trust” involved in the offence was especially “significant” due to his position and the amount of money involved, Ms Linington said.

The PPCA group is a collection of GP practices working together in and around Portsmouth.

Its role in the city included tendering an out-of-hours GP service to the NHS, the court heard.

“At the time of this offence a director was signed off sick and therefore gave [Dr] Chhapia the freedom and the permission at that stage to have access to the business accounts of the PPCA,” Ms Linington added.

The GP, who appeared in the dock wearing a pink shirt, tie and a face mask, will be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on 22 October after being told his offences were too serious for the magistrates to deal with.

Until then, he has been released on bail.

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