State Refuses to Reinstate "Unethical" and "Dishonest" Psychologist Vitomir Zepinic

October 19, 2018

A bogus shrink has been caught using forged documents in his failed attempt to be re-registered as a psychologist.

Vito Zepinic, 65 has been branded “unethical” and “dishonest” and has had a string of convictions for passing himself off as a doctor, but he recently told a NSW Tribunal that his convictions were fraudulently recorded and he should be allowed to practise as a psychologist.

Vito Zepinic pictured outside his Turramurra home in 2008 before he left for London.

The former security chief for the “Butcher of Bosnia,” convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, Zepinic has been convicted in Australia and the UK for falsely claiming to be a psychiatrist. He has been found to have lied under oath, falsified documents, forged signatures and been declared a vexatious litigant over years of failed legal battles in a renovation dispute.

In his latest stoush with the Health Care Complaints Commission, in which he was demanding compensation of $1.5 million and the reinstatement of his psychologist’s registration, Zepinic was caught using a forged document he claimed was a reference from a medical practitioner.

Zepinic, 65, trained as a psychologist at the University of Sarajevo before he fled to Australia in 1993. For years he falsely claimed his medical degrees had been lost due to the war in his homeland. Using this excuse, he was able to work as a psychiatrist at Toowoomba Hospital for two years. In 2002, the Queensland Medical Board discovered he had no medical training.

He had earlier tried to secure a position as a psychiatrist with the Hunter Mental Health Services. However, the panel of doctors who interviewed him said they were "seriously disturbed by Dr Zepinic's responses".

"He seemed not to understand the difference between benzodiazepines and antidepressants, [and] thought that Valium and Ducene were different substances," the panel found.

In 2008 a Sydney magistrate found Zepinic guilty of six counts of falsely holding himself out to be a doctor. He avoided a jail term and was instead placed on a good behaviour bond.

Following his conviction, the Psychologists Registration Board of NSW undertook a long inquiry into Zepinic. He was subsequently banned from the register for five years after it was discovered Zepinic had routinely lied, used forged documents, faked the signatures of other medical practitioners and made false declarations about his qualifications.

"The level of dishonesty of [Zepinic] is remarkable," said the Psychologists Tribunal of NSW tribunal in 2010. Zepinic had demonstrated "he cannot be trusted to act in an honest and truthful manner" and was happy to lie "whenever it suited his purposes". The tribunal said he posed "a significant risk to public safety".

While serving his good behaviour bond after his conviction for six counts of pretending to be a doctor in NSW, Zepinic used bogus documents to obtain a job as a senior lecturer in psychiatry at one the England’s leading teaching medical schools, Queen Mary University of London.

After Australian authorities notified their British counterparts of his convictions, Zepinic was not only fired but he was convicted of three counts of false representations. In 2013 a London court gave him another good behaviour bond.

Meanwhile, Zepinic continued to come back to Australia as he waged a hopeless legal battle against his builder, who had sued Zepinic and his wife Milla after the couple failed to pay for their renovations.

Last year a Supreme Court judge declared Zepinic a “vexatious litigant” whose "wasteful and destructive" behaviour had also been "exacerbated by his dishonesty" during his failed years of litigation against a building company. “It must be stopped. It is contrary to the public interest,” Justice Michael Pembroke said.

Zepinic has since appealed that judgment.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week refused his request to be allowed back on the register of psychologists.

The tribunal found that “far from demonstrating any reflection on or attempts to address the shortcomings identified in the 2010 decision,” Zepinic has continued “to exhibit behaviour that is completely inconsistent with the standards of honesty and integrity expected of a health practitioner.”

The tribunal noted that Zepinic continued to argue that his 2008 convictions were based on a fraud committed by the Medical Tribunal and that he also demanded the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency pay him £840,000 ($1.5 million) for his financial loss caused by “fraudulent documents” submitted to the Health Professional Council (UK) which led to his prosecution in the UK.

Instead, the tribunal banned him for another five years and ordered him to pay the costs of the HCCC.

“Dr Zepinic has, since 2010, continued to conduct himself in an improper and unethical manner, and to act in a manner which demonstrates that he is not of good character,” the tribunal found.

There is no suggestion that Zepinic was involved in Karadzic's war crimes. Zepinic said Karadzic turned on him and wanted him dead for his refusal to go along with the plans.

Source: "Bogus psychiatrist caught using forged documents,” Sydney Morning Herald, October 18, 2018, URL:


No comments.

Post your own comment here:

Your Comment