Spore suspends official
    over graft case

   Wall Street Journal
June 22, 2012


A SENIOR official at Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been suspended over allegations of improper expenses claims during overseas visits, a ministry spokesman said.

Lim Cheng Hoe, chief of protocol at the ministry, is under investigation, the spokesman said, marking the latest in a recent string of high-profile corruption cases in the city-state. Singapore has been ranked the fifth least corrupt country in the world by Berlin-based Transparency International.

"Mr Lim has served MFA and Singapore very well for 38 years, and we are very sad that this has happened," the spokesman said, adding that the case has been referred to the Commercial Affairs Department, which, according to its website, is tasked to "safeguard Singapore's integrity as a world-class financial and commercial centre."

Earlier this month, in two separate cases, high-ranking civil servants Peter Lim and Ng Boon Gay, were charged by the Singapore's anticorruption agency, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, with accepting sexual favors from women seeking to influence government contracts.

Peter Lim, the former head of Singapore's Civil Defence Force, has been charged with having "corruptly obtained sexual gratification" from women hoping for preferential treatment in winning contracts for their firms. He hasn't entered a plea. Mr Ng, former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, is contesting similar charges leveled at him.

The MFA spokesman said declined to give more details on Lim Cheng Hoe's case, saying investigations are ongoing.

Lim Cheng Hoe didn't immediately respond to requests to comment.

Singapore has won praise for being a transparent and efficient place to do business, and cases of indiscretion on the part of civil servants are rare. Civil servants in the city-state are among the best paid in the world and the government says that this helps deter corruption.