The National Parks Board (NParks) officer who tipped off a bicycle firm director about an upcoming tender was yesterday convicted of lying to auditors about their relationship.
Assistant director Bernard Lim Yong Soon was, however, acquitted of instigating Bikehop's Lawrence Lim Chun How to perpetuate the lie that they had met only after the tender was awarded.
Following a nine-day trial, a district court found it was more likely that the latter had acted out of a personal anxiety to keep their stories consistent when quizzed by the Ministry of National Development (MND).
Bernard Lim, 42, now faces up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines for telling the MND they had first met on March 16, 2012.
They actually met at a night cycling event in September or October 2011. Bernard Lim later told Mr Lawrence Lim about the January 2012 tender for folding bicycles, for which Bikehop then made the only bid - for $57,200.
The court held that Bernard Lim had effectively tried to give the MND the wrong impression of what was actually a "highly supportive and nurturing friendship" between the two at an interview on July 18, 2012, in fear of his conflict of interest being exposed and possible disciplinary proceedings.
District Judge Marvin Bay yesterday said Lim had responded to questions in a "perplexing" and "oblique" way - such as by telling MND auditors he first met Mr Lawrence Lim at a meeting to discuss a delay in the delivery of a batch of the Brompton bikes.
The defendant - who declined to take the stand or call any witnesses - had also claimed that while the two men were Facebook "friends", this did not "necessarily translate to real friendship in the physical sense".
"I would have very much preferred to hear Bernard's explanation for his most peculiar answers," Judge Bay said.
Bernard Lim had also asked the Bikehop director to "unfriend" him on Facebook and told him not to reveal their relationship to anyone. But after lying to auditors initially, Mr Lawrence Lim eventually came clean. He had also earlier requested a meeting at a hawker centre where he urged Bernard Lim to tell the truth to his bosses.
However, the judge said that if Bernard Lim had specifically wanted his friend to lie, he would have done more.
"Indeed it is possible that he may have thought that Mr Lawrence Lim might lie in any case, but that expectation would be likely more from Mr Lawrence Lim's own anxiety to maintain coherence in their two accounts," the judge said.
Bernard Lim remains suspended from his job as his case is still before the court, NParks said in a statement yesterday. He is expected to be sentenced on June 10.
This article was first published on May 30, 2014.
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