Former MFA protocol chief made false claims over 10,075 boxes of pineapple tarts

Pineapples tarts, apparently a popular item the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stockpiles as gifts for the hosts of official trips overseas, has emerged as a key evidence in the case against Lim Cheng Hoe, the ministry's former protocol chief
Pineapples tarts, apparently a popular item the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stockpiles as gifts for the hosts of official trips overseas, has emerged as a key evidence in the case against Lim Cheng Hoe, the ministry's former protocol chief. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Pineapple tarts, apparently a popular item the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stockpiles as gifts for the hosts of official trips overseas, has emerged as a key evidence in the case against the ministry's former protocol chief.

Lim Cheng Hoe was charged on Thursday with 60 counts of cheating by submitting false claims to the MFA amounting to $88,997.

Court papers revealed that among the claims were reimbursements to Lim for 10,075 boxes of pineapple tarts and 248 bottles of wine over a four-year period from 2008 to last year. But of these, only 2,116 boxes of the popular confectionary and 89 bottles of wine were actually purchased and given away by the MFA.

The 60-year-old, who has been suspended from duty, was protocol chief for about 10 years. He headed the ministry's section responsible for organising ministerial and presidential trips overseas, and was the go-to guy on diplomatic protocol.

The claims he had allegedly submitted ranged from $280 to $5,080. Three of the 60 charges accused him of cheating MFA into consenting that he retained $420, $4,000 and $490 in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Lim's lawyer Philip Fong asked for the case to be adjourned for him to make representations. His police bail of $100,000 has been extended and a pre-trial conference has been set for Oct 25.