Doctor in HIV data leak accused of drug trafficking

If convicted of trafficking, Ler Teck Siang (left) can be jailed for up to 20 years, with 15 strokes of the cane. He is also appealing against a conviction and two-year jail sentence for abetting Mikhy Farrera Brochez to commit cheating, and for givi

A Singaporean doctor at the centre of the HIV information leak is also facing three drug-related charges, including methamphetamine trafficking.

If convicted of trafficking, Ler Teck Siang, 37, can be jailed for up to 20 years, with 15 strokes of the cane.

Ler is accused of administering methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, to one Sim Eng Chee in a room at the Swissotel The Stamford hotel on Feb 26 last year. Court documents do not reveal details about Sim.

Ler is also accused of being in possession of a syringe – a utensil intended for the administration of a controlled drug – in the lobby of the Conrad Centennial Singapore hotel at around 4.15pm on March 2 last year.

About an hour later, he allegedly failed to provide his urine sample at the Central Narcotics Bureau office in New Bridge Road.

There is no indication in court documents that he was arrested that day.

Ler will appear in court for these drug-related charges on May 29.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that more than 14,200 people living with HIV had their confidential information, including contact details and medical information, leaked online by an American man, Mikhy Farrera Brochez.

Brochez’ partner was Ler, who used to head MOH’s National Public Health Unit (NPHU).

Ler is also facing charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) related to the leak. The date for the OSA case has not been fixed.

Court documents for the OSA case show thatthe doctor had access to a registry, which contained the names of people who tested HIV-positive in Singapore prior to February 2012.

He is said to have saved the information on a thumbdrive while working at the NPHU.

He allegedly failed to “take reasonable care” of the information by “failing to retain possession” of the thumbdrive between March 2012 and May 23, 2016.

In addition to court appearances for the OSA case and the drug-related charges, Ler has a hearing coming up next month.

He is appealing against a 2018 conviction and a sentence of two years in jail for abetting Brochez to commit cheating, as well as for giving false information to the police and MOH.

Ler, who does not have HIV, had submitted his own blood sample in place of his HIV-positive boyfriend’s to help him get an Employment Pass here.

Following a trial, District Judge Luke Tan found Ler guilty of helping Brochez to deceive the Ministry of Manpower into issuing him an Employment Pass in March 2008 and allowing him to keep the pass in November 2013 after red flags were raised.

Ler was also found guilty in September last year of lying to MOH in December 2013 and the police in January 2014, when he was questioned about a second blood test.

During his trial, Ler claimed he had given these statements under duress. His various allegations were rejected by Judge Tan.

Among other things, Ler said that while he was being questioned, an officer burst into the room, flung medical records on the table and shouted at him to “stop playing games”. This was refuted by the relevant officers.

The judge found it hard to believe Ler, who had flip-flopped in his testimony regarding the identity of the officer who was allegedly hostile towards him.

For the trial last year, Ler had engaged defence lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu, whom he later discharged.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, the lawyer from Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice said: “He discharged me on the first day of his trial to run his own case. I believe he is still not represented by a lawyer now.”

Even though Ler remains a doctor for now, his certificate to practise medicine in Singapore expired at the end of last year and has not been renewed.

Brochez, 34, was sentenced to 28 months in jail in 2017 for offences that included cheating, lying to a public servant, possessing drugs and using forged educational certificates.

He was deported after completing his sentence.

[“source=straitstimes”]