Doctor at heart of HIV data leak to stand trial in May for drug charges

Doctor at heart of HIV data leak to stand trial in May for drug charges

Dr Ler Teck Siang 2016 photo portrait
Dr Ler Teck Siang, seen here in a 2016 photo, is at the centre of the data leak of Singapore's HIV registry, together with his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez. (Photo: Faith Medical Group)

SINGAPORE: The doctor at the heart of the data leak of 14,200 HIV-positive people will be returning to court in May to stand trial for drug charges, the State Courts confirmed on Thursday (Jan 31).

Ler Teck Siang, whose partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez is suspected to have leaked the information online, is facing charges for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine to another man in a hotel, and for possessing drug utensils.

Ler's previous job as head of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) National Public Health Unit granted him access to Singapore's HIV registry, and he mishandled the information of 14,200 HIV-positive people.

On Monday (Jan 28), MOH revealed personal information from the register, including phone numbers and medical records of HIV sufferers, had been leaked online, adding that Brochez is suspected to still possess the data.

Brochez was deported from the country in April 2018, after serving his sentence of 28 months' jail for lying to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about his HIV status, along with other fraud and drug offences.

READ: Unanswered questions and information gaps remain about HIV data leak

Mikhy Farrera Brochez mugshot
Mikhy Farrera Brochez, the American citizen at the centre of the data leak of Singapore's HIV registry. (Photo: Clark County Detention Centre/Mugshots.com)

Ler, 37, will return to court on May 29 to face the drug charges, the courts confirmed.

The doctor was charged with eight offences in total. He has been sentenced for the first four, which include two charges of abetting Brochez to cheat MOM about Brochez's HIV-positive status, and two charges of giving false information to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the police.

The fifth charge alleged he failed to take reasonable care of confidential information of those who are HIV-positive, an offence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). It has been stood down, or set aside.

This means the charge is still live and will be dealt with after the other charges have been settled.

DRUG CHARGES

The latest three charges are drug-related. According to charge sheets seen by Channel NewsAsia, Ler was charged for the first drug offence in September last year while his trial for abetting Brochez to cheat MOM was ongoing.

He is accused of failing to provide a urine specimen to a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer within the required time in March 2018. The charge has also been stood down and the offence is punishable with a maximum 10-year sentence, $20,000 fine or both. 

READ: Mikhy Brochez, American wanted in Singapore for HIV data leak, charged in US for trespassing

Ler was slapped with the other two drug offences on Nov 16, after he was convicted of the first four proceeded charges.

He is accused of trafficking and administering methamphetamine at a hotel room in Swissotel The Stamford on Feb 26, 2018 to another man, Mr Sim Eng Chee. He faces a maximum 20 years' jail term for this, with 15 strokes of the cane.

He was also allegedly found with drug utensils at the Conrad Centennial hotel lobby on March 2, 2018. The maximum sentence for this is a fine of S$10,000 and three years behind bars, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(mi)

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