Dentist fined for displaying unapproved qualifications

He pleaded guilty to 3 charges, dental council wanted suspension but settled for $50k fine

A dentist has had a $50,000 fine slapped on him for displaying a set of qualifications that had not been approved by the Singapore Dental Council (SDC).

In fact, the SDC wanted to impose a stiffer penalty - and even considered suspending Dr Samintharaj Kumar - but said that its hands were tied because of the provisions of the Dental Registration Act.

Dr Kumar, the chief executive and clinical director of Nuffield Dental Holdings, used the unapproved qualifications in an advertisement for a seminar last August where he was a speaker.

In a flier for the event, he was listed as an MFDS RCS - Member of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons (England). It was also mentioned that he was an MFD RCSI - Member of the Faculty of Dentistry , Royal College of Surgeons (Ireland). In addition, he stated he held a Master of Business Administration degree from London.

SDC's disciplinary committee found him guilty of three charges - one of using the qualifications in a symposium flier and two of using them in two e-mails to the council.

In 2015, it had fined Australian dentist Myles Holt $50,000 on one charge of issuing an unapproved qualification to participants at a training course.

Since Dr Kumar was guilty on three counts, the SDC panel wanted to suspend him. It said a six-week suspension would have been adequate, but rules provided for only a minimum three-month suspension, which was excessive. It settled for a $50,000 fine.

"This was the best decision the disciplinary committee could make, given the limitations on their powers of punishment," said SDC.

Dr Kumar was warned against such breaches before. The dentist, who studied and practised for 12 years in England, pleaded guilty to the charges. "I have no interest in breaking any rules," said Dr Kumar. "I'm used to speaking internationally, and wherever I go I would show the full set of qualifications... it gives the assurance of credibility."

Dr Kumar said he was giving a talk at a symposium when another dentist took a picture showing a presentation slide with his name and the "offending" qualifications and sent it to the SDC.

Dr Kumar said he will pay the fine. The penalty for defaulting is a six-month suspension.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Dentist fined for displaying unapproved qualifications'. Print Edition | Subscribe