Lying to civil servant: Bid to clarify sentencing law

Lying to civil servant: Bid to clarify sentencing law

A former National Parks Board (NParks) officer was fined for telling a falsehood to government auditors, and now the prosecution has asked Singapore's apex court to clarify when the more severe punishment of a jail term is warranted for lying to a public servant.

Mr Bernard Lim Yong Soon was fined the maximum $5,000 in June after he was found guilty by a district court of lying to the auditors about his friendship with a bicycle shop owner, whom he had tipped off about a government tender.

A criminal reference has been filed with the Court of Appeal, under which only points of law, not issues concerning the evidence, are to be decided.

"The Attorney-General is of the view that it is in the public interest to clarify certain issues of sentencing law," a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said yesterday.

This was in the light of "important questions of law" that had arisen, on appeal, following Mr Lim's convictionafter a nine-day trial. He could have been jailed for up to a year and fined $5,000.

On Nov 21, the High Court dismissed both the prosecution's appeal that Mr Lim should be jailed for three to four months, and Mr Lim's appeal against his conviction.

In late 2011, he had tipped off the boss of Bikehop about an upcoming NParks tender for foldable bikes. Bikehop entered a bid to sell 26 Brompton bikes to NParks in January 2012. It was the sole bidder and it won the tender.

In June 2012, the deal came under intense public scrutiny over the $2,200 price tag of each bicycle.

When questioned by Ministry of National Development auditors about his relationship with Bikehop director Lawrence Lim, Mr Lim lied that they had met for the first time only in March 2012, after the tender was awarded. But the truth was that the two first met at a night cycling event in September 2011, before NParks invited bids for the bikes.

In May this year, Mr Lim was convicted of lying to the auditors but acquitted of a second charge of instigating the Bikehop boss to lie.

In the criminal reference, the prosecution also wants the court to make clear whether a sentencing court can justify not imposing a jail term - even if imprisonment is warranted - if there are mitigating factors that favour the accused.

This article was first published on Dec 9, 2014.
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