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Desi doctor's accounts under scrutiny

May 08, 2008 17:39 IST

An American judge has ordered Indian-American doctor Dipak Desai, who has been linked with a hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas, and his business partner to get court approval for large financial transactions.

"This is such an extraordinary case that I think extraordinary measures are allowed," district Judge Allan Earl said while issuing the rare preliminary injunction, which came amidst concerns that the doctors might move money overseas to protect it from lawsuits in the US.

The decision, issued on Tuesday, requires Dr Dipak Desai and Dr Eladio Carrera to get the judge's approval for any financial transactions of USD 50,000 or more, the Las Vegas Review Journal had reported.
Desai is the majority owner of the now-closed Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, which is embroiled in a huge medical scandal. Carrera owns a minority share.

Judge Earl also threatened the doctors with "sterner measures" if they tried to circumvent the order by carrying out multiple transactions just under the USD 50,000 limit.

Desai's lawyer, Dominique Pollara, called the decision "an unwarranted intrusion on the defendants' property rights" and described as "absolutely baseless" the fear about the doctors moving the money overseas.

Last week, a local newspaper had reported that Desai had tried to ship his two Mercedes-Benzes to Dubai.

Lawyers for Endoscopy Center patients sought the court order to ensure that the doctors do not liquidate their assets, which would make it difficult for the plaintiffs to gain access to the money if there is a judgment against the clinic and its owners.

"Without some oversight, supervision and control, by the time we get a verdict here ... there's not going to be any money to collect," said lawyer John Muije.

The judge also gave lawyers for patients suing the clinic the permission to start probing financial records of the clinic and its doctors.

About a week ago, another judge issued temporary orders restraining the two doctors from practicing medicine until the completion of a state investigation.

The clinics have since surrendered their business licenses and paid a total of USD 500,000 in fines.

The doctors are charged with 10 counts each including malpractice, violating patient trust and exploiting the doctor-patient relationship for financial gain. They are also accused of bringing the medical profession into disrepute.

However, the criminal investigation has run into a hurdle with the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners refusing to give the metro police detectives records of any complaints against Desai filed with the board.

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