HIV data leak: What we know about Mikhy Farrera Brochez

HIV data leak: What we know about Mikhy Farrera Brochez

Mikhy K Farerra-Brochez mug shot
Mikhy K Farerra-Brochez is suspected to have leaked the data of 14,200 HIV sufferers from Singapore's HIV registry. (Photo: Clark County Detention Centre/Mugshots.com)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (Jan 28) announced that the HIV-positive status and personal information of 14,200 people from Singapore’s HIV registry were leaked online by US citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez, who had previously worked here as a lecturer in two polytechnics.

Brochez, who was deported in April last year, was jailed in 2016 for lying about his HIV status to gain an employment pass.

The 34-year-old, who was also convicted of fraud and drug-related offences, was sentenced to 28 months’ jail.

Here’s what we know about him:

HOW DID BROCHEZ LEAK THE INFORMATION?

Brochez was the romantic partner of Ler Teck Siang, a male Singaporean doctor who was the former head of the National Public Health Unit at the Ministry of Health (MOH) between March 2012 and May 2013.

READ: The leaking of Singapore’s HIV registry records and the hunt for Mikhy Farrera Brochez: A timeline

According to court documents, the couple started living together in Singapore in 2008. They got married in New York City on Apr 24, 2014.

As head of MOH's National Public Health Unit, Ler had authority to access information in the HIV Registry as required for his work, said MOH.

Ler, who resigned in January 2014, is believed to have mishandled the information and is suspected of not having complied with the policies and guidelines on the handling of such confidential information.

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

In May 2016, MOH lodged a police report after receiving information that Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the HIV Registry.

Police searched the couple's properties and relevant material was seized as well. 

In May 2018, after Brochez had been deported from Singapore, MOH received information that he still had part of the records. While the information did not appear to have been made public, MOH lodged a police report and contacted the affected individuals to inform them. 

On Jan 22 this year, MOH was notified by the police that Brochez may still have more information from the HIV Registry, and had leaked it online.

HOW DID BROCHEZ ENTER SINGAPORE?

Ler helped Brochez, who was HIV-positive, dupe the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) into issuing the American an employment pass.

On two separate occasions, Ler gave a sample of his own blood to be submitted so that Brochez could hide his HIV status. 

READ: ‘I am sorry’: Gan Kim Yong says health ministry providing support to HIV sufferers affected by data leak

The first instance was in March 2008 for a compulsory medical test required by the MOM for issuing the employment pass.

Brochez, who suspected he was HIV-positive, knew that he would not be granted an employment pass if MOM knew his medical status, court documents showed.

Ler suggested submitting his blood in Brochez's name to MOM in order to yield a negative result.

On the morning of Mar 13, Ler drew his own blood at home and stored it in a test tube.

Ler, who was a locum general practitioner at My Family Clinic at Commonwealth that day, brought the test tube to work with him.


When Brochez visited the clinic that evening for a blood test, Ler labelled the test tube with Brochez's particulars and submitted it for testing.

As a result, the test came back negative and MOM issued an employment pass to Brochez.

In October 2013, MOM received information that Brochez was HIV positive and directed him to cancel the personalised employment pass he had obtained in Feb 2011.

Brochez responded by saying that he had been falsely accused and told MOM he would supply "proof of being free of HIV".

READ: HIV data leak a 'criminal act that should be condemned': Action for AIDS

To prevent the pass from being cancelled, the couple repeated the ruse they had used in 2008 at the clinic Ler was working at at that time.

As a result, MOM allowed him to retain his pass.

According to court documents, Brochez said he and Ler were in love and the only way for them to be together was to commit the offences due to the “discriminatory” laws.

He also claimed that he posed no public health risk as he had been taking antivirals since 2008.

WHAT ELSE DID HE FAKE?

When police raided Brochez's residence, they seized several certificates purportedly issued to him, said court documents. 

This included a linguistics degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master’s degree in developmental and child psychology as well as a doctorate in psychology and education from the University of Paris. A professional teaching certificate was also seized.

READ: Doctor on trial for helping HIV-positive boyfriend deceive MOM

READ: Ex-lecturer charged with lying about HIV status for Employment Pass

Investigations revealed that all the certificates were forged and that Brochez neither attended the institutions nor obtained the qualifications.

He had used the certificates to apply for jobs with educational institutions in Singapore.

Authorities also found a Bahamian passport with the name Malatesta da Farrera-Brochez in a safe. 

Though the passport bore the same birth date and photograph of Brochez as shown in his US passport, police confirmed that it was a fake. 

During his work in Singapore, Brochez received multiple awards and recognition for teaching excellence. He also published articles in scientific journals and books on child psychology.

Brochez has also represented Singapore at international conferences for academia and research.

In a 2010 interview with a local newspaper, Brochez claimed that he was enrolled in Princeton University at the age of 13. However, he transferred to Vanderbilt University in his first year because he felt the latter offered better linguistic courses. 

READ: HIV-positive status of 14,200 people leaked online

In the interview, Brochez said he could converse in eight languages, including Hebrew and Spanish, saying that he was "a gifted child". 

Brochez claimed he was a successful "laboratory rat" of his mother, a Dr Theresa King, who was purportedly a renowned professor of child and adolescent psychology in the UK. 

"My mother is a really big influence in my life. I would not have made it without all her help and guidance," he had said in the interview. 

However, according to British daily The Independent, there was no psychologist with such qualifications under the name given by Brochez. 

When The Independent contacted a UK-registered psychologist who qualified under the name given by Brochez, the news site was told that Brochez was not her son, and that she did not specialise in any of the relevant areas. 

draw blood hiv test
File photo of blood being drawn during an HIV test. (Photo: AFP) 

WHERE IS HE NOW? 

Brochez has been traced to a small county in Kentucky, US, where he has been charged with trying to trespass into his mother's house.

He was arrested at his mother’s house in Clark County on Dec 8 last year, according to court and arrest documents seen by Channel NewsAsia.

Brochez had been warned on Sep 29 not to return to his mother’s property after he tried to force his way in, or face being arrested for criminal trespass. 

READ: 'It's very traumatic': HIV-positive individuals anxious, frustrated after MOH data leak

When he returned to her home on Dec 8, banging on her door, he was arrested and taken to the Clark County Detention Centre. A spokesman for the detention centre confirmed with Channel NewsAsia that Brochez had been arrested and is on bail. 

Brochez has been ordered to appear before the district court on Feb 18 to face the charge of third-degree criminal trespass.

Source: CNA/ad(aj)

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