Accused NParks officer 'led to believe auditors meeting was informal chit-chat'

National Parks Board officer Bernard Lim Yong Soon (centre), who is accused of lying to auditors, was led to believe he was having an informal "chit-chat" with them when in fact it was an official interview, a court heard on Friday. -- ST P
National Parks Board officer Bernard Lim Yong Soon (centre), who is accused of lying to auditors, was led to believe he was having an informal "chit-chat" with them when in fact it was an official interview, a court heard on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

THE National Parks Board officer accused of lying to auditors was led to believe he was having an informal "chit-chat" with them when in fact it was an official interview, a court heard on Friday.

Three Ministry of Development (MND) officers had not made it clear to Bernard Lim Yong Soon that they would be writing a report on the proceedings of July 18, 2012, for senior management, defence lawyer Lawrence Ang argued on the trial's fourth day.

Lim, 42, is accused of telling the officers that he did not know the director of firm Bikehop before it put in the sole bid to supply 26 Brompton bicycles to his employer for $57,200. It is also alleged that he instigated Bikehop director Mr Lawrence Lim Chun How to perpetuate the lie.

The latter testified on Tuesday that the pair had actually first met in September or October 2011 at a social event, and that Lim tipped him off about the tender which was to take place in January, 2012.

Cross-examining MND senior director Felix Loh Chee Wai on Friday, Mr Ang said: "My instructions are you made it appear it was a friendly conversation or chit-chat and never relayed it would be a formal interview."

He also charged that Mr Loh and his colleagues had not advised his client they would be making a record of his words.

Disagreeing, Mr Loh said he explained to Lim that they were conducting an internal audit in light of allegations about the two mens' relationship. He said: "I told Bernard some notes would be taken and (my colleague) was there typing away."

Mr Loh testified on Thursday that Lim initially claimed he had first met Mr Lawrence Lim on March 16, 2012, but later clarified this to be March 6.

The court also heard that Lim was not shown notes of his July 18, 2012, interview because the Bikehop director admitted two days later that he had first met Lim before March 16 - which contradicted what Lim had told the MND on July 18.

No corruption charges have been brought against Lim. But if convicted of giving false information to public servants, the NParks assistant director, suspended since July 24, 2012, faces a up to a year in prison and a fine of $5,000. The trial resumes on March 25.

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