Charges brought against 19 Hong Kong laboratory staff over faked bridge concrete tests
ICAC says workers at Jacobs China Limited face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud
Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog on Wednesday charged 19 laboratory staff working for a government contractor over faking concrete test reports for the multibillion-dollar bridge that will link the city to Zhuhai and Macau.
The suspects – a senior site laboratory technician, 13 technicians and five assistants – were responsible for conducting construction material compliance tests, including concrete compression tests, according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
They were hired by Jacobs China Limited (JCL) – a contractor for the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) – and mainly worked at the Siu Ho Wan Public Works Regional Laboratory. The lab was set up by the department in late 2012 to meet the increased demand for compression tests on concrete samples for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
All concrete samples were required to pass the tests within a set period of time.
The ICAC said 18 of the staff members faced a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud as they allegedly changed the time of the computers or replaced the original concrete sample cubes to falsify the tests between January 2013 and July 2016.
“They were alleged to have dishonestly altered the date and/or the time of the computers connected to the compression machines in the laboratory,” the graft-buster said in the statement.
“[They were also alleged to have used] high strength concrete cubes or a metal calibration cylinder to substitute the original concrete sample cubes delivered to the laboratory for construction material compliance testing, in order to conceal and rectify concrete compression tests which had not been conducted in accordance with the requirements of the CEDD.”
In the second case, a 61-year old former site laboratory technician faces two charges of using false instruments.
He was accused of using a fake record slip or worksheet to record the result of compression tests between September 2012 and June 2015, with the hope of getting somebody to accept them as genuine.
The scandal emerged after the graft-buster arrested 21 employees of JCL in May over faking concrete test reports for the bridge, raising serious safety concerns.
The Highways Department released a statement later on Wednesday, saying that the concrete test results for the Hong Kong section of the bridge and related projects had met the requirements.
A third party, appointed by the department, had also completed a relevant professional assessment on the structures and submitted a report to the department last Wednesday, it said.
“All the test results and analysis showed the strength of the concrete fulfils the requirements,” the statement said.
The ICAC added that the two cases arose from corruption complaints referred by the CEDD, and that the Highways Department and the Transport and Housing Bureau had assisted in the investigation.
The 19 were released on bail and will all appear at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts on Friday. The 18 will have their case transferred to the District Court for plea.