Singaporeans blast MOH for "covering up" HIV registry leak for years

Data of 14200 Singapore patients with HIV leaked online by American fraudster who was deported from here

HIV records of more than 14,000 people leaked in Singapore

Records leaked include 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed as HIV-positive before January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed before December 2011, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.

The MOH said the information was in the possession of a US citizen named Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, who had been remanded to prison in Singapore in 2016, convicted of numerous fraud and drug-related offenses. He released 14,200 patient names, HIV test results, phone numbers, addresses, ID numbers, and other medical information - including the names and contact information of 2,400 of their sex partners, the Singaporean Ministry of Health said in a statement.

MOH said Brochez was a partner of Ler Teck Siang, Head of MOH's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013, who had authority to access information in the HIV Registry as required for his work.

However, Mr Chan Heng Kee, Permanent Secretary, MOH, said the information remains in the hands of Brochez, an American who was deported after he was released from prison in April previous year for separate crimes, including drug offences and lying about his own HIV status in order to obtain an Employment Pass.

Police are investigating and the authorities are seeking help from foreign counterparts.

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However, the information is still in the hands of Farrera-Brochez, who was deported after he had served his jail term.

An HIV-positive USA expat now on the run has leaked the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people - plus their contact details and the names of some of their sex partners - from a Singaporean health database.

These included a two-person approval process to download and decrypt information as well as the disabling of the use of unauthorised portable storage devices on official computers as part of a government-wide policy.

"Going forward, we will continue to strengthen and to review our systems to ensure they are secure, and our priority remains the patients' well-being and we will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them". Officials said his whereabouts are unknown.

"Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA".

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'The information has been illegally disclosed online. But the police did not know that the American still has the data stored somewhere.

Ler has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients, and is out on bail.

Ler was sentenced to two years' jail last year for abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the police and the health ministry. It had, however, notified the individuals affected. At this point in time, did the authorities still believe there was no need to make public the news that some information had been stolen? Ler has appealed, and his appeal is scheduled to be heard in March 2019. "We are working with relevant parties to scan the internet for signs of further disclosure of the information".

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

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