Australian of the Year state finalist Eman Sharobeem has told a Sydney corruption inquiry PhD degrees listed on her resumes were merely "wishful play" and evidence of an honorary doctorate was destroyed by fire during the Arab Spring.
The Egyptian-born Sharobeem, who calls herself doctor, told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Tuesday she received an honorary doctorate from the American University in Cairo, but she never received a certificate and can't find any proof of the degree in Egypt.
"I tried all my best, it's not my fault there is an Arab Spring and the whole building is burnt out," Sharobeem told the ICAC hearing in Sydney.
Counsel assisting the commission, Ramesh Rajalingam, said the American University of Cairo had advised it didn't have a record of Sharobeem obtaining a degree of any sort.
Sharobeem said she was notified of the honorary degree by the HR department of her employer - the National Council for Women in Egypt.
"And I said 'Thank you, wow, that's great', and that was the end of it," she said.
Sharobeem is accused of rorting more than half a million dollars of public funds during her time as the chief executive officer of the Immigrant Women's Health Service and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women's Scheme.
The commission was shown Sharobeem's resumes that listed a PhD in "Psychology, Family and Community" from the American University in Cairo and another doctorate in "Management in Organisational Leadership" from the University of Technology, Sydney.
"This is fabricated," Sharobeem admitted when asked about her "Brief CV of Dr Eman Sharobeem" dated December 2006.
"This is some wishful play on my computer. It's for me. It's not for anyone else."
That resume was never submitted to the IWHS or used to gain employment, she said.
It wasn't until 2004 that Sharobeem started misrepresenting herself as a doctor in Sydney and allegedly started treating patients for mental health problems.
She said people knew her as a doctor in psychology but it never crossed her mind they would think she was a psychologist.
"I am not a psychologist and never claimed that I received training," she said on Tuesday.
The commission was shown numerous referrals addressed to her from Sydney GPs, but Sharobeem denied treating patients other than diagnosing stress and anxiety.
"All correspondence comes to me ... it doesn't mean I'm presenting myself as a treating person," she said.
Sharobeem will continue giving evidence on Wednesday.