SINGAPORE: Former National Parks Board (NParks) Assistant Director Bernard Lim Yong Soon was on Tuesday (June 10) fined S$5,000 for giving false information to auditors from the Ministry of National Development (MND) for the bulk purchase of Brompton bicycles. This is the maximum fine for the offence. Lim had faced up to a year's jail.
The 42-year-old was convicted by a district court last month (May). The MND officers had been conducting an internal audit into NParks' purchase of 26 Brompton bicycles between June and July 2012.
Lim, who was overseeing the purchase, had denied being a friend of Mr Lawrence Lim Chun How, the director of BikeHop Singapore, which had won the tender to supply the foldable bicycles at S$2,200 each.
He told the MND officers that they had met in March 2012 for the first time after the award of the tender, to discuss the delay by BikeHop in the delivery of a batch of bicycles.
But during the trial, the court heard that the two men already knew each other prior to the meeting.
In his submissions on sentence today, Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy told the court that the purchase of the bicycles involved the government procurement process, which provides safeguards in the expenditure of public funds.
Lim's actions in the procurement process, and his subsequent attempt to conceal the facts, had sought to undermine these safeguards, he said, adding that a deterrent sentence was "not only warranted but necessary".
Mr Jumabhoy also pointed out there was pre-meditation on Bernard Lim's part, and that the latter had continued to lie, even after being found out.
But Bernard Lim's lawyer Mr Lawrence Ang countered this, saying that there was no evidence of any corruption.
"He is being punished for nothing more than failing to be candid and honest about his answers when subjected to intensive, intrusive questions by the (MND) team because he feared disciplinary action or dismissal from his job," he added.
Bernard Lim was acquitted of the other charge of instigating Lawrence Lim to give false information to public servants. He had been suspended from his job, but an NParks spokesperson says in view of the court's decision, he has been terminated with immediate effect. - CNA/kk
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