Brompton bike fiasco: NParks officer accused of lying to auditors claiming trial

Bernard Lim Yong Soon, the National Parks Board officer behind last year's Brompton bike procurement fiasco told the court on Friday that he will claim trial. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Bernard Lim Yong Soon, the National Parks Board officer behind last year's Brompton bike procurement fiasco told the court on Friday that he will claim trial. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The National Parks Board officer behind last year's Brompton bike procurement fiasco told the court on Friday that he will claim trial.

Bernard Lim Yong Soon, the NParks assistant director who oversaw the purchase, was charged in court on Aug 29 with lying to auditors investigating the deal. The 41-year-old had allegedly denied that he was friends with a director from Bikehop, the supplier of the bicycles.

A second charge alleges that Lim had persuaded the director to provide the same false information to the auditors, who as a result of his lies did not look further into the relationship between the two men.

This happened sometime between June and July last year, when Lim was being questioned over the controversial purchase of the folding bicycles, which cost NParks $2,200 each. The case against him will be heard in court again on Oct 24.

Lim, however, was spared from having to face corruption charges after an extensive assessment of the case by the Attorney-General's Chambers did not uncover any elements of corruption, said the authorities last month. The probe had also indicated that the tender procedures for the bicycles, made by British brand Brompton, were in order.

Bids had been called for via a website accessible to the public and potential vendors for a period of time that was permissible under guidelines at the time.

There was no requirement for more than one bid or for the purchase to be from an authorised distributor. The amount NParks paid for the bicycles was also in line with the market price then for the brand of folding bicycles.

The deal for the 26 Brompton bikes, however, drew widespread criticism when news broke in June last year that NParks had spent a total of about $57,200 on them.

An audit team was subsequently appointed by the Ministry of National Development, which oversees NParks, to look into the matter. The case was later handed over to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau to determine if there were "any criminal wrongdoings in relation to the purchase", said a spokesman from the anti-graft agency yesterday.

Lim has been suspended on half-pay since July last year. If convicted of giving false information to public servants, he could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to $5,000, or both.