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CNA investigates employee over leaked email to SumoStory CEO

Channel NewsAsia is investigating a member staff after he was caught sharing a viewer’s private email with SumoStory’s Chris Chong that questioned claims made in a documentary about him.

The unnamed member of the Mediacorp channel’s production team took a screenshot of an email by PR agency owner Jacob Puthenparambil that asked about the start-up founder’s S$24 million fortune in relation to CNA’s Millionaire Minds.

The employee subsequently sent the screenshot of the inquiry, which showed Puthenparambil’s name and email address, to Chong, who in turn then personally contacted the PR agency boss.

Mumbrella Asia understands that the employee is still working at Mediacorp, and has not been suspended, while an investigation is underway. Mediacorp was unable to provide a timeline on its conclusion.

Chong in the Millionaire Minds documentary

Before founding SumoStory, a PR automation service aimed at start-ups, Chong was the co-founder of Beeconomic, which was claimed on CNA to have been sold to Groupon Singapore for $24 million in 2010.

Last week, after reading reports about Chong’s involvement in writing editorial articles about his PR clients in ForbesPuthenparambil sent a message through Channel NewsAsia’s inquiry form asking about their sources of information in relation to claims about the Groupon sale made on Millionaire Minds.

Two days later, Puthenparambil, who owns the Singapore-based agency Redhill, received the following emails from Chong: “Thanks for your interest in my personal wealth. It certainly makes me feel a sense of accomplishment that people joke with me that you put so much effort into your hobby.”

When queried about this, Chong wrote back in an email seen by Mumbrella Asia: “My friends at Channel News Asia must have sent me an enquiry form from another Jacob Puthenparambil then.”

Following Chong’s message, Puthenparambil complained to Mediacorp and the Personal Data Protection Commission. The former is understood to have apologised to him personally.

He added: “As a viewer, I just wanted to know how they arrived at the $24 million figure because I can’t find that information anywhere.”

Mediacorp head of brand and communications Karen Yew said: “We regret that a new staff member inadvertently shared the name and email address of a viewer who wrote to us with an external party. We take information security very seriously and are taking immediate corrective action.”

Chong was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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