Despite American Mikhy Farrera Brochez possessing sensitive HIV Registry information, the Attorney-General’s Chambers did not charge him under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in 2016 as it was deemed that he would likely receive only a fine or at most a few weeks’ jail for his offence.
“This was because there had been no wide dissemination of the information at that stage, and he had primarily used the information to complain to government agencies,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament on Tuesday (12 February).
“He was already facing numerous fraud and drug-related charges, which carried far heavier penalties. AGC also assessed that any jail term under the OSA was likely to be concurrent with jail terms that he would serve under the other offences.
“Brochez was therefore issued with a stern warning for the OSA offence.”
Gan made these revelations while delivering his Ministerial Statement on the recent HIV data leak, which saw the details of 14,200 HIV-positive people being released online by Brochez.
The 34-year-old American and his Singaporean partner Ler Teck Siang, a 37-year-old doctor who at one point headed the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) National Public Health Unit, we both charged in June 2016.
Ler faced charges under the Penal Code and OSA, while Brochez was charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act, Penal Code and Infectious Diseases Act.
In March 2017, Brochez was jailed 28 months for fraud and drug-related crimes. He was deported after serving his sentence.
Ler, who had helped conceal Brochez’s HIV-positive status from the authorities, was sentenced to two years’ jail last year for abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also for providing false information to the police and the health ministry.
The Singaporean’s appeal against his sentence and conviction is expected to be heard in March.
Brochez sent HIV Registry data to mother
In November 2012, Brochez alleged that Ler had disclosed information about Brochez’s HIV-positive status to others.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) then discovered in December 2013 that Brochez may have submitted fake HIV blood tests to the Ministry of Manpower in order to retain his employment pass.
Brochez was arrested in April 2016 for repeatedly refusing to comply with MOH’s order to take a blood test. He had then provided the police and government authorities 75 names and particulars from the HIV Registry.
Gan said that police later raided Brochez’s and Ler’s premises simultaneously and seized items such as computers, electronic storage devices and files. They found that Brochez had sent the same screenshots of the 75 names and a PDF document containing a further 46 records from the HIV Registry to his mother.
The police contacted Brochez’s mother, who agreed to let them access her e-mail accounts and deleted those records, Gan said.
At this point, said Gan, the police had done their best to ensure that no further confidential information remained with Ler and Brochez. He acknowledged, however, that there was a risk that Brochez could have hidden some more information.
Sorry for distress caused
In concluding his Ministerial Statement, Gan said that he was sorry that Ler’s irresponsible actions had caused distress to the affected persons.
He added that Brochez had left a trail of lies and deceit, and perpetrated a reprehensible act that has affected thousands of persons with HIV.
Gan added that Singapore will spare no effort in bringing him to justice again for his latest crime.