A disappearing dentist accused of leaving at least 12 patients in Auckland with incomplete treatment and thousands of dollars out of pocket has made contact with the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal at the eleventh hour, halting proceedings.
After having no previous contact with the tribunal and failing to show for the first day of his hearing on one charge of professional misconduct, this morning he claimed he wasn’t aware it was going ahead and successfully pleaded for it to be adjourned.
“If I was ignoring the tribunal … or ghosting the tribunal so to speak, why would I be here now?” he said via audiovisual link from his home in Australia.
“I could lose my registration in New Zealand. It’s a very, very serious issue,” he said.
“I would like an opportunity to respond and it will shed a lot of light into what happened.”
The tribunal has adjourned the hearing for three weeks to give Al-Mozany a “hard-edged deadline” to prove he did not receive documents via post notifying him of the hearing date.
The tribunal will then decide to either carry on with the proceedings, or empanel a different tribunal and have the matter revisited.
The shock appearance derailed the final patient of Saad Al-Mozany’s to provide evidence. They had stayed up until midnight in the UK to appear via audiovisual link today.
The panel was also set to begin deliberating today on whether the orthodontist specialist be found guilty or not guilty of the charge.
He is accused of failing to show up to numerous appointments and not providing patients with plates and aligners they had paid for, before the practice was mysteriously shut down and he was never heard from again. Until now.
It’s the first time the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), which laid the charge, said they have heard from the orthodontist specialist at the centre of allegations made by 12 patients dating back to 2018.
This morning Al-Mozany sent an email to the tribunal stating he had not been aware the hearing was going ahead.
He said he had only heard about the hearing because a family member had notified him ofan NZ Herald article published this morning.
The tribunal executive officer replied, outlining the steps that had been taken to notify him of the hearing.
Proceedings continued and a patient’s father gave evidence, who said his daughter had been brought to tears over her incomplete treatment.
But during the morning break Al-Mozany emailed the tribunal, asking for the hearing to be called off.
At the tribunal’s request, he made his case for why it should be delayed, saying he wanted to “put his defence together”.
“I’ve had some problems here in Sydney.
“I missed a few rent payments [in Auckland] … my previous partner swooped in and took over the lease.
“I was blocked from the property … I could not get in touch with anyone I could not do anything,” he told the tribunal.
He said he has been through an “extremely difficult three and a half years” and he accused his former business partners of “embezzling the company accounts”.
“I’ve been fighting for the last three-and-a-half years in Sydney through the courts and everything … my whole life has turned upside down.”
He claimed he received no documents in the post sent by the tribunal notifying him of the hearing date.
“I did not receive the documents, I will go on record to say that.”
He claimed there were periods of time when his Gmail account was not working and it had been disabled twice.
“The PCC did have my phone number since April this year … why was I not contacted on my phone, sent a text message?”
The tribunal said it had called Al-Mozany and the PCC claimed they had emailed him numerous times.
Any evidence produced by Al-Mozany as to why he was not aware of the proceedings will be dealt with in an online hearing open to the public.
'It just led her to tears'
Before the hearing was adjourned, a father said his daughter had been moved to tears when she was treated by another orthodontist who was concerned about the state of her teeth followingAl-Mozany’s treatment.
“Another person was so nice and so positive about what could happen … it just led her to tears and that upset me as well,” he said.
His daughter had paid a lump sum of $8350 upfront for an 11-month treatment plan that was still unfinished after 30 months, he claimed in his evidence.
She presented a letter to Al-Mozany demanding a refund.
The document said if she received the funds she would “take no further action”.
“Failure to do so, and I will proceed with legal action to retrieve this payment and associated costs,” the letter produced as evidence read.
“There is no doubt your behaviour with respect to my treatment is in breach of your responsibilities under the Dental Association New Zealand Conditions of Practice,” it said.
The letter asked Al-Mozany to pay $2000 of her remaining treatment by November 2018, which he did.
She did not provide evidence at the hearing.
All patients who provided evidence have permanent name suppression.
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