- The Straits Times
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.
Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, 33, had met local general practitioner Ler Teck Siang, 36, online.
The American lived in Singapore for eight years on employment pass, from January 2008 to June 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 that year, 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.
With that result, MOM issued Farrera-Brochez with an EP, and he later 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 (PEP).
Investigations later revealed that his various educational certificates, including one from the University of Paris, were forged.
He was also found guilty of possessing ketamine and cannabis mixture in May 2016.
The American was remanded in prison in June 2016, and sentenced to 28 months’ jail for fraud and drug-related offences in March 2017.
He had pleaded guilty to a total of six charges, with 17 taken into consideration.
Upon his release from prison in April 2018, Farrera-Brochez was deported.
While he is not in Singapore, his whereabouts is currently unknown to the authorities.
Meanwhile, Ler was charged in 2016 for offences under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act (OSA).
He was convicted in September last year, of abetting Farrera-Brochez to commit cheating and of providing false information to the police and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Sentenced to two years’ jail, Ler is appealing the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March this year.
Meanwhile, he is still on the Singapore Medical Council’s Register of Medical Practitioners.
A MOH spokesman said that while Ler remains registered as a doctor, he currently does not have access to MOH and public healthcare IT systems with patient records.
“In particular, he has had no access to the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system since January 2014. He will not be permitted access to any of these systems.”
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.
On top of the sentence he is currently appealing against, Ler has been charged under the OSA for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.
This latter charge is pending before the courts.