Thirteen sentenced for producing false concrete test records of HZMB Project

2019-12-11


Thirteen former laboratory staff of a consulting firm of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), charged by the ICAC, were today (December 11) sentenced to up to two years’ imprisonment for producing false records on concrete compression tests for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Project.

Kwok Man-fai, 36, former laboratory assistant of Jacobs China Limited (JCL), received a jail term of two years. Five former site laboratory technicians of JCL, Yip Tak-kit, 29, Chan Yui-hang, 25, Yiu Yu-fung, 50, Yu Wai-tak, 31, and Lee Wing-fai, 26, were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to six months.

Four other defendants, Sit Ka-chun, 27, and Cheung Ka-ming, 30, both former site laboratory technicians of JCL; and Jo Chan Chi-shing, 60, and Tse Tak-lai, 37, both former laboratory assistants of JCL, were sentenced to jail terms ranging from two to eight months, suspended for two years.

Lee Chi-kan, 25, former laboratory assistant of JCL, and Ng Man-hung, 28, former site laboratory technician of JCL, were ordered to perform 160 and 240 hours of community service respectively.

The 12 defendants were earlier found guilty of a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Common Law.

Co-defendant Ng Kai-yiu, 65, former site laboratory technician of JCL, who earlier pleaded guilty to the joint charge, was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment today.

In sentencing, District Judge Mr Clement Lee Hing-nin said that various jail terms were meted out in accordance with the degree of involvement of individual defendants.

The court heard that at the material time, the defendants were employed by JCL as site laboratory technicians or laboratory assistants to work at the Public Works Regional Laboratory at Siu Ho Wan. They were responsible for conducting construction material compliance tests, including concrete compression tests (CCTs) on concrete cubes.

The laboratory was established by the CEDD in late 2012 to meet the increased demand for construction material compliance tests arising from the construction of the HZMB. The management and operation of the laboratory were outsourced to JCL under a consultancy agreement.

Two Principal Technical Officers (PTOs) of the CEDD were posted to the laboratory at different periods to oversee the services provided by JCL and to act as the Approved Signatory for issuing accredited reports on the tests conducted at the laboratory under the Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (HOKLAS).

According to the required procedures, a staff member of the laboratory would place a sample concrete cube inside a compression machine connected to a computer when performing a CCT. He would then operate the computer and apply load to the cube at an appropriate rate until it was crushed.

Upon completion, the machine would automatically generate a record slip recording the test result. After recording accurately the test result on a worksheet and signing on it, the laboratory staff should cause the test result to be input into a computer system for generating a checklist.

The court heard that since about 2013, the defendants failed to conduct CCTs in accordance with CEDD’s requirements due to heavy workload and shortage of manpower.

Between January 2013 and July 2016, the defendants and five other laboratory staff conspired together and with other persons to resort to a deceptive practice of manipulating the date and time of the computers connected to the compression machines, and using substitutes such as high strength concrete cubes and a metal calibration cylinder to carry out CCTs.

Believing the information contained in the reports of CCTs were genuine, the two PTOs certified those reports under the HOKLAS, the court heard.

The five other laboratory staff concerned, Mak Pui-shing, 67, Chiu Chi-hing, 28, Poon Ka-wai, 27, Dicky Lai Wing-fat, 42 and Kwong Fu-yin, 46, were also charged for their roles in the scam. They were earlier sentenced to jail terms ranging from 21 to 32 months after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud jointly charged with the abovementioned 13 defendants.

The case arose from a corruption complaint referred by the CEDD, which, together with the Highways Department and the Transport and Housing Bureau, had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation.

The prosecution was today represented by prosecuting counsel Lisa Remedios and Macro Li, assisted by ICAC officer Robert Yeung.

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