Who are the pair at the centre of HIV data leak?

Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, 33, (right) had met local general practitioner Ler Teck Siang, 36, online.
Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, 33, (right) had met local general practitioner Ler Teck Siang, 36, online. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

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).

Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, 33, had met Singaporean general practitioner Ler Teck Siang, 36, online.

The American lived in Singapore for eight years on an EP, from 2008 to 2016.

He had moved to Singapore a year after the pair got into a romantic relationship.

As he knew that foreigners with HIV are not allowed to work here, Farrera-Brochez, who is HIV-positive, conspired with Ler to falsify his blood test results.

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 visited a clinic in Commonwealth, where Ler was on duty as a locum GP, for a medical examination.

Ler had drawn blood from his left arm earlier that day and labelled the test tube with Farrera-Brochez's particulars.

 
 

Farrera-Brochez got his EP, and worked as a polytechnic lecturer.

Using the same ruse, the pair duped the authorities again in 2013, when Farrera-Brochez tried to apply for a Personalised Employment Pass.

Investigations later revealed that his various educational certificates, including one from the University of Paris, were forged.

He was also found guilty of possessing a ketamine and cannabis mixture in May 2016.

The American was remanded in prison in June 2016, and sentenced to 28 months in jail for fraud and drug-related offences in 2017.

Upon his release from prison in April last year, Farrera-Brochez was deported. He is not in Singapore, and his whereabouts are not known.

Meanwhile, Ler was charged in 2016 under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He was convicted in September last year of abetting Farrera-Brochez to cheat and of providing false information to the police and Ministry of Health (MOH).

Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March.

Meanwhile, he is still on the Singapore Medical Council's Register of Medical Practitioners. But he does not have a practising certificate or access to MOH and public healthcare IT systems with patient records.

"In particular, he has had no access to the National Electronic Health Record system since January 2014. He will not be permitted access to any of these systems," said MOH

As the head of MOH's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013, Ler could access information in the HIV Registry for his work purposes.

He resigned in January 2014.

It was from his mishandling of information that the leak of HIV Registry information is believed to have taken place. This includes not having complied with policies and guidelines on the handling of critical information.

Ler has also been charged under the OSA for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients. This charge is pending before the courts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2019, with the headline 'Who are the pair at the centre of HIV data leak?'. Print Edition | Subscribe