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 when they had actually met in late 2011.
Bernard Lim later told Mr Lawrence Lim about the January 2012 tender for folding bicycles, for which Bikehop went on to make the only bid.
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.
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, District Judge Marvin Bay 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 by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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