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Home The News News NHI data might have gone to China: report

NHI data might have gone to China: report

Evidence indicates that data allegedly leaked from the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) might have been given to China, media reported yesterday as prosecutors and the agency continued separate probes into the case.

Prosecutors on Monday last week launched an investigation into retired NHIA chief secretary Yeh Feng-ming (葉逢明), and current NHIA employees Lee Jen-hui (李仁輝) and Hsieh Yu-lien (謝玉蓮).

Data allegedly leaked by Yeh included personal information of high-level government officials and intelligence personnel, the Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine reported yesterday.

National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Lee Po-chang speaks to reporters in an undated photograph.

Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

Yeh has traveled to mainland China via Hong Kong and Macau more than 10 times in the past few years, the magazine reported, adding that a large amount of money from unknown sources was remitted to his family bank account after each trip.

It also reported that he loaded National Health Insurance (NHI) data onto USB flash drives over 13 years at the agency.

The NHIA has formed a task force to conduct an internal administrative investigation into the case, but has so far found no evidence of the suspects storing data on flash drives, NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) said yesterday.

Lee Po-chang said that the NHIA would respect the results of the prosecutors’ investigation, adding that he had no knowledge of the Mirror Media report.

Asked about Yeh’s trips to China, Lee Po-chang said, without elaborating, that the employer submitted proper leave requests.

Yeh had no clearance to access the NHI’s underwriting system in his previous positions and the NHIA’s preliminary investigation found no search history linked to him, the agency said.

Hsieh and Lee Jen-hui, who were both in charge of underwriting for more than 10 years, had clearance to access the system and their job required them to search for data on the system, it said.

Hsieh made more than 133,000 searches and Lee Jen-hui more than 35,000 during the time they worked at the agency, it said.

Hsieh conducted more than 110,000 searches in 2018, an abnormal amount, while the number of searches conducted by Lee Jen-hui remained about the same each year, it said.

The NHIA asked the public not to speculate about the case, adding that it planned to complete its internal investigation tomorrow and has begun to reinforce its cybersecurity procedures.

The sources and mechanisms to verify facts of the magazine’s report were unclear, the NHIA said in a statement.

The NHIA lamented the accusations against its former and current staff, and would cooperate fully with prosecutors, it said, adding that it would mete out severe punishment for any illegal behavior.

Tsai Hsiu-ching (蔡秀卿), director of the NHIA’s ethics office, said that the agency transferred the suspects from their positions as section chiefs and revoked their data access clearance immediately after the accusations were made.

It also formed a task force following Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan’s (薛瑞元) instructions and started reviewing the clearance of all NHIA staff, Tsai said.

As for information security, the NHIA has tightened controls of sensitive information, improved the review mechanism for large-scale searches, reviewed the data management process and drawn up better on-the-job training material, she said.

Prosecutors said that the suspects might have contravened the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) if the personal data of intelligence personnel were leaked.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office released Hsieh on bail of NT$100,000 due to her abnormal search history, while Yeh and Lee Po-chang were released without bail on insufficient evidence.

Prosecutors would continue to probe whether any abnormal cash flows were linked to the suspects, and whether they leaked personal information to China or other foreign forces, the office said.

Additional reporting by Chien Li-chung

Source: Taipei Times - 2023/01/18

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