Francisco da Cruz removed from the RCVS register after being found guilty of five counts of fraud at Crown Court.

The Disciplinary Committee (DC) has struck off a vet found guilty of fraud at Crown Court.

During the one-day hearing, the DC heard how Francisco da Cruz abused his position while practising as a veterinary surgeon at Hellesdon Vets, his then workplace in Norwich, by defrauding insurance companies of around £10,000 with fictitious claims for veterinary treatment on non-existent pets.

Following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), Mr da Cruz was convicted on five counts of fraud by false representation on February 21, 2013 at the Old Bailey in London, and later sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment (suspended for two years) and 200 hours of unpaid community work. He was also ordered to pay just over £10,000 in compensation and costs.

Although Mr da Cruz had left the UK for Brazil shortly after sentencing, and was therefore not present at the hearing, the committee was satisfied he was deliberately evading the disciplinary proceedings, rather than being genuinely unable to participate in them, so the hearing proceeded in his absence.

First accepting the copy certificate of conviction against Mr da Cruz as true, the DC concluded these convictions rendered him unfit to practise as a member of the profession.

It found the five counts of fraud were deliberate crimes of dishonesty, committed over a significant period of time and for financial gain. He had abused his position as a veterinary surgeon and abused the trust insurers placed in him as a professional.

Chairing the committee, Peter Lees, said: “The committee has no real confidence there is no significant risk of repeat behaviour from the respondent. His conduct subsequent to the criminal proceedings gives it no confidence he has reformed himself to the extent he will in the foreseeable future be fit to return to practice.

“So far from satisfactorily completing his criminal sentence, it appears the respondent has deliberately gone abroad to avoid doing so.”

Bearing in mind the purpose of any sanction it imposed was not to punish Mr da Cruz, but to maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold proper standards of conduct within it, the committee concluded the convictions were too serious to allow any sanction other than removal from the Register.

The full details of the committee’s decisions are available on the RCVS website www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary

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