NParks officer in Brompton bike case later 'clarified' answer on relationship with vendor

Trial of Bernard Lim (centre), a National Parks Board officer who oversaw the purchase of 256 Brompton bicycles photographd on March 13, 2014, at the State Courts. The National Parks Board (NParks) officer who oversaw the $57,200 purchase of 26
Trial of Bernard Lim (centre), a National Parks Board officer who oversaw the purchase of 256 Brompton bicycles photographd on March 13, 2014, at the State Courts. The National Parks Board (NParks) officer who oversaw the $57,200 purchase of 26 Brompton bicycles from supplier Bikehop "clarified" a day after his interview with auditors that he might have wrongly remembered when he first met its director, a district court heard on Thursday, March 13, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The National Parks Board (NParks) officer who oversaw the $57,200 purchase of 26 Brompton bicycles from supplier Bikehop "clarified" a day after his interview with auditors that he might have wrongly remembered when he first met its director, a district court heard on Thursday.

Bernard Lim Yong Soon, 42, allegedly told the Ministry of Development (MND) he "could have met" Mr Lawrence Lim Chun How on March 6, 2012, the day a batch of the foldable bikes were delivered to his employer - rather than at a meeting on March 16 about a week later, which was his initial answer.

He is accused of lying to MND auditors during the interview on July 18, 2012 that the two did not know each other before the Bikehop bid to supply the bikes. He is also accused of instigating Mr Lawrence Lim to do the same.

Giving testimony on the third day of Lim's trial, MND senior director Felix Loh Chee Wai said that he "had no reason to doubt" Lim's claim of not personally knowing the Bikehop director immediately after interviewing him on July 18. Lim had also told Mr Loh and two other MND officers during the interview that it was only a coincidence that Bikehop's bid was "spot on".

But Mr Loh and his colleagues decided Lim's answers were "not satisfactory" after the latter two did further investigations the next day. This was considering how Bikehop's bid to supply the bikes exactly matched NParks' budget, and the short tender period of five days. They then called Lim up to clarify his position.

"This time round, he paused... and replied that he might have remembered it wrongly the day before", Mr Loh told the court. Mr Loh added that at the end of the July 18 interview, Lim had raised his hands and said "I did not take any money" when asked to confirm that he did not know the Bikehop director before January 2012.

Mr Lawrence Lim had testified on the first day of the trial that the two had met in September or October 2011 - some three months before the tender.

No corruption charges have been brought against Lim. But 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.

Mr Loh will return to the stand on Thursday afternoon to be cross-examined by defence lawyer Lawrence Ang.

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