Singapore Foreign Affairs Official Suspended Over Expenses

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry suspended its Chief of Protocol Lim Cheng Hoe over allegations of improper claims for expenses incurred during overseas trips.

“Lim has served MFA and Singapore very well for 38 years, and we are very sad that this has happened,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. “MFA takes all allegations of improper conduct seriously.”

Lim, who’s being investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department, was removed from duties on June 19 after the ministry received information about him, according to the statement. He didn’t respond to phone calls at his office and home, and didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

The ministry is reviewing its expense claims approval process “to see what additional safeguards may be necessary,” it said in a separate e-mailed statement.

The suspension comes after former Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau director Ng Boon Gay and former Civil Defence Force chief Peter Benedict Lim Sin Pang were charged this month with corruption for obtaining sexual favors.

Singapore, which is ranked the fifth-least corrupt nation by Transparency International, is reviewing its public sector financial procedures after a S$12.5 million ($9.8 million) fraud in September 2010 by two former land authority workers.

“MFA expects its officers to uphold the highest standards of duty, integrity and professionalism,” the foreign affairs ministry said in the statement today. “No one can be exempt and the law must take its course.”

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