A pharmacist has been convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 months by the Brisbane District Court today, 14 March 2023 after pleading guilty to fraudulently claiming more than $1.9 million in payments under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
This outcome is the culmination of a strong collaboration between the Department of Health and Aged Care, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Ashgrove pharmacist, Mr Shahin Ardalan was charged with one count of obtaining a financial advantage under section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
This matter was also referred to the AFP led Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce (CACT), which restrained residential property, shares and cryptocurrency linked to Mr Ardalan.
On 12 July 2022, the District Court of Queensland ordered Mr Ardalan to pay $1.9 million to the Commonwealth pursuant to section 116(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth).
The charges relate to an investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Aged Care that found Mr Ardalan unlawfully claimed benefits under the PBS between 5 January 2017 and 1 May 2020. As a result, he received $1,942,515.44 in benefits to which he was not entitled.
Mr Ardalan has repaid the money in full through the AFP’s Proceeds of Crime Action.
Today’s sentencing is a reminder of the real and serious punishments for those who defraud taxpayers via the Medicare system. The Department of Health and Aged Care takes allegations of Medicare non-compliance very seriously and all tip-offs are reviewed.
There is no place for fraud in the Medicare system. Where incorrectly or fraudulently claimed benefits are identified, the Department will seek to recover those funds and/or refer matters to the CDPP where criminal prosecution is considered appropriate.
Anyone with information about suspected non-compliance or fraud of Government health payments by health providers can make a report via the “Reporting Fraud” page on the Department of Health’s website at www.health.gov.au/fraud-tip-offs or by calling the Provider Benefits Integrity Hotline on 1800 314 808.