Information of 14200 HIV sufferers leaked by doctor's U.S. boyfriend

Kenny Tucker
January 30, 2019

'Confidential information regarding 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 2,400 of their contacts, is in the possession of an unauthorised person, ' the country's health ministry said in a statement.

According to MOH, the confidential information is in the illegal possession of Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a male United States citizen who was residing in Singapore, on an employment pass, between January 2008 and June 2016.

Patient names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, HIV test results and medical information was included in the information leaked by a former Singaporean resident.

The country's health ministry said Brochez had departed from Singapore a year ago, and while it didn't say where he is now, the Ministry of Health said it was seeking assistance from foreign partners to bring him back to face charges.

He was then busted for lying to the authorities about his HIV status, fraud, and drug-related offenses and was sent to jail in 2017, and then deported, The Straits Times reports.

Brochez - who could not be reached for comment - is now under investigation by Singaporean police, "and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts", the statement said.

However, the information is still in the hands of Farrera-Brochez, who was deported after he had served his jail term. In addition to these serious charges, Ler is also facing charges relating to taking reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.

About eight months later, MOH found that Brochez could have illegal possession of more information from the HIV registry and that he had disclosed the information online.

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The latest leak comes months after a cyber attack resulted in the data of 1.5 million patients, including government officials and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, being compromised. "We will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them".

MOH said earlier on Monday that since 2016, new safeguards against the mishandling of information by authorised staff have been put in place.

The duo at the centre of the HIV Registry leak were boyfriends who hatched a plot to trick the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) into issuing one of them an employment pass (EP).

He also said officials believe Farrera-Brochez was overseas, but do not know where.

"I have had enough of officials telling us when they should give information that affects people or what sort of information should be made public. Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA", said a spokesman. Ler was convicted of "abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the Police and MOH" in September a year ago and jailed for 24 months. He was charged in court in June 2016 for offences under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act.

Ler, who was also charged with the falsification of Brochez' HIV status, was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment.

Access to the information has been blocked but it is still in the possession of the person who leaked it - and could be disclosed again, the ministry warned.

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