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Brompton bikes case: S$5,000 fine for former NParks official

SINGAPORE — In disagreement with public prosecutors who had sought a jail term for former National Parks Board (NParks) assistant director Bernard Lim Yong Soon, a district judge fined Lim the maximum fine of S$5,000 for lying to auditors, saying his offence did not warrant a custodial sentence.

Former National Parks Board assistant director Bernard Lim Yong Soon received the maximum fine for lying to auditors. Today File Photo

Former National Parks Board assistant director Bernard Lim Yong Soon received the maximum fine for lying to auditors. Today File Photo

SINGAPORE — In disagreement with public prosecutors who had sought a jail term for former National Parks Board (NParks) assistant director Bernard Lim Yong Soon, a district judge fined Lim the maximum fine of S$5,000 for lying to auditors, saying his offence did not warrant a custodial sentence.

Delivering the sentence yesterday, district judge Marvin Bay noted that prosecutors had asked for a jail term, and one longer than those handed out in previous cases that also involved lying to public servants. But the judge was “not satisfied” that Lim’s offence called for a jail term. “The cases cited involved rather more egregious conduct,” he said, noting that one involved the potential corruption of a blood bank.

Lim, Judge Bay noted, had acted with “gross impropriety” in the procurement of the Brompton bikes, but “I also accept that Mr Bernard Lim spoke the truth that he never profited financially from this transaction”.

Following the sentencing, NParks announced that Lim has been dismissed with immediate effect.

Lim, 42, was convicted last month of giving false information to auditors from the Ministry of National Development (MND) in 2012 over a S$57,200 deal to buy 26 Brompton bikes, which had prompted a public outcry over whether NParks had got value for money.

Following investigations, Lim was charged with lying to the MND auditors about his friendship with Mr Lawrence Lim Chun How, a director of Bikehop Singapore, which won the tender to supply the bicycles to NParks.

Prosecutors also charged that Lim had purportedly persuaded Mr Lawrence Lim to similarly lie about their friendship to the auditors.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy had called for a deterrent sentence of three to four months, stating that there is strong public interest in ensuring the integrity and transparency of the process through which public funds are spent.

Lim’s conduct, he said, sought to undermine safeguards to the process, as did his subsequent attempt to conceal the facts.

However, defence lawyer Lawrence Ang, who had urged that Lim be fined the maximum S$5,000, argued there was “no evidence of any corruption”.

“(Lim) is being punished for (not being) candid and honest about his answers (when asked) intensive, intrusive questions by (the MND) team because he feared disciplinary action or dismissal from his job,” said Mr Ang.

Judge Bay noted that Lim’s apparent excitement at working with Mr Lawrence Lim on a project, which involved their passion to promote the use of foldable bicycles, may have caused him to lose his sense of perspective. He also acknowledged that Lim has not been convicted of corruption.

“Notwithstanding this, I must agree with the prosecutor that the court must take a serious view where an attempt is made to subvert the procurement process,” he said.

The prosecution has up to 14 days to file a notice of appeal.

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