Disgraced whistleblower Ashton Foley has fled her rural Victorian home after telling a WA newspaper she was bound for the US to confront her fraudulent past.
In a fresh twist, her former employers Peel Health Campus called in police over the allegedly false credentials the 40-year-old used to get a $350,000-a-year package as its chief operating officer.
Mrs Foley, who turned whistleblower by alleging corruption and maladministration before a parliamentary committee, spoke to a reporter yesterday claiming she was boarding a flight to the US from Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport.
She told the Mandurah Mail that she was returning to face US courts over outstanding charges of fraud and identity theft under the name Michelle Marie Foley.
WA Police confirmed last night that Mrs Foley was still in Australia.
Her mobile phone and home phone have been disconnected.
The major fraud squad confirmed it was investigating a complaint from PHC over an alleged fraud involving Mrs Foley.
It is understood the complaint, received yesterday, alleges Mrs Foley had falsified her professional qualifications to receive a salary, bonus and vehicle package worth $350,000.
PHC has previously claimed that Mrs Foley stole hospital property - including an iPod, iPhone and computer files - before leaving its employ.
The decision to flee her rural Victorian home with her four young children came hours after Mrs Foley resigned from her new job as chief executive of a regional health service 400km east of Melbourne.
Regional Health Service board president Catrynes van der Vlugt said the dramatic story of Mrs Foley's past had been destabilising.
"We took a long time to recruit a CEO and for this to happen will set us back another three or four months," he said.
"We'll be asking questions about the recruitment process."
Mrs Foley's 2008 arrest in the US for fraud was exposed in _The Weekend West _ on Saturday after she emphatically denied the claim.
She also sent an altered document in a bid to prevent the story being published.
PHC chairman Mark Stowell confirmed that it did not check her qualifications and background before employing her last May but said it "was not the only one".
Health Minister Kim Hames defended PHC yesterday, saying Mrs Foley previously had government employment with Western Power and even Parliament's financial operations committee took her "at face value".
He said it was "right and proper" that the Government inquiry into Mrs Foley's allegations go ahead because some of them had been backed up by others.