Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

In addition to these serious charges, Ler is also facing charges relating to taking reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.

Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday that confidential data from its HIV registry had been illegally accessed and leaked by Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a USA citizen residing in Singapore on an employment pass.

Brochez was deported from Singapore in May 2018 after he served a 28-month prison sentence for "numerous fraud and drug-related offences", which stemmed from him lying about his HIV-positive status to the Ministry of Manpower in order to maintain his employment visa.

The records leaked were those of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners, including work and visit pass applicants and holders, diagnosed with HIV up to December 2011.

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

Brochez was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the ministry statement, which did not say where. "Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals".

Outraged Singaporeans have blasted the Ministry of Health (MOH) for keeping silent about the leak of confidential information from the HIV registry for years, until the information was disclosed online by a foreigner.

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

In September a year ago, he was convicted of abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the Police and MOH.

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The MOH said he'd been aided in criminal activity by his partner, a Singaporean doctor who was formerly head of MOH's National Public Health Unit.

"[We] will not hesitate to take stern action against staff and other individuals who abuse their authority and access to confidential information, or fail to handle such information in a proper manner".

Leow Yangfa, a spokesman for LGBT charity Oogachaga, said the group was concerned people who have not disclosed their HIV status to employers, family or friends could face repercussions due to the leak.

The MoH said it first notified police that Brochez might have accessed health records in May 2016.

Singapore police warned people against sharing the patients' information.

"We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information", it said, adding that Brochez now was under police investigation and local authorities were seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts. But the police did not know that the American still has the data stored somewhere. He was charged in court in June 2016 for offences under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act. The information did not appear to have been disclosed publicly.

To successfully apply for an employment pass to stay here with his boyfriend, Farrera-Brochez submitted a HIV-negative test result to MOM in March 2008 using Ler's blood for the test. He was sentenced to 24 months' jail.

Only when the police notified MOH last week (22 Jan) that the confidential information possessed by Farrera-Brochez has been leaked online that MOH chose to inform the public yesterday.

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