NParks officer in bicycle case charged

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) officer in the controversial purchase of Brompton bicycles by the agency - at $2,200 each - was charged in court yesterday.

Bernard Lim Yong Soon, 42, an NParks assistant director, was charged under the Penal Code with offences related to giving public servants false information.

The purchase of the 26 Brompton bicycles came to light in June last year. Members of the public raised concerns over the high price tag of each foldable bike.

The following month, Lim, the officer who oversaw the purchase, was suspended after an internal audit found discrepancies in the procurement process.

The Ministry of National Development (MND), which NParks comes under, also launched an investigation into the matter, before referring the case to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Lim was found to have been Facebook friends with the owners of the bicycle shop, BikeHop, that was awarded the contract. It was also the only bidder in NParks' tender. One of the shop's directors is Mr Lawrence Lim Chun How.

The accused was also friends on Facebook with other bicycle suppliers.

BikeHop had submitted two offers in the tender: One for $2,200 Brompton bicycles and one for $2,500 Bike Friday bikes.

Yesterday, Bernard Lim was charged with giving false information on July 18 last year to two officers from MND's Internal Audit Unit and one officer from the ministry's Corporate Development Unit.

He had told them that he did not have a personal relationship with Mr Lawrence Lim.

He also claimed that the first time he met Mr Lawrence Lim was at a meeting to discuss the delay by BikeHop to deliver a batch of Brompton bicycles to NParks.

He was also charged with abetting, by instigation, Mr Lawrence Lim into giving two officers from MND's Internal Audit Unit similar false information.

The abetment was said to have taken place sometime between June and July last year at a hawker centre in Shunfu Road.

If found guilty of giving false information to a public servant, Bernard Lim can be jailed for up to one year, fined up to $5,000, or both.

His case will be heard again on Sept 27, The Straits Times reported.

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