Singapore official jailed in pineapple, wine case: Two senior government officials were imprisoned on Thursday in separate corruption scandals that have dented Singapore’s reputation as one of the world’s least corrupt countries.
Lim Cheng Hoe, 61, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs head of protocol, received a 15 months jail sentence for inflating expenses for pineapple tarts and wine he bought as gifts for dignitaries, said reports.
Forty-year-old Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong an assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, received a ten year prison sentence for misappropriating Sg$1.76 million (US$1.4 million) worth of government funds.
Both men had pleaded guilty earlier, according to reports.
Last year the government introduced new rules in the civil service to further deter graft in the wake of several corruption scandals in connection with Singapore official.
“This case has caused public disquiet as it involved a high-ranking public officer who deceitfully obtained public funds by virtue of his position and the trust reposed in him,” said district court Judge Eddy Tham in a written judgement in the Lim case.
Lim had initially been slapped by state prosecutors with 60 charges of overbilling the government for gifts purchased for foreign officials during overseas visits, which totalled Sg$88,997 (US$70,280).
Lim was head of the foreign ministry department responsible for organising overseas ministerial and presidential trips.
According to court documents, Lim claimed for over 10,000 boxes of pineapple tarts, a popular savoury in Singapore, but actually used only 2,200 as gifts.
Lim got blank receipts from vendors and overstated the number of boxes purchased. He also claimed 248 bottles of wine but only purchased 89.
In the Yeo case the judge said the decade-long prison sentence was necessary because he was a law enforcement officer and the court had to “signal the society’s moral opprobrium over his offences and deter any like-minded offenders”.
Yeo had used the misappropriated governmental funds to gamble at a casino.
Singapore has been ranked by watchdogs as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and large-scale graft cases remain rare in the city-state.