Two ex-directorsof Hui Hon had assigned a site agent to monitor the Yuen Chau Kok piling works. He was responsible for submitting reports to HD about construction methods, implementation plans, proposed pile lengths and actual pile lengths after installation. This man was an employee of Hui Hon who had previously worked on other piling projects for the company.

The site agent had three subordinates: a foreman, a site foreman and an assistant engineer, all of whom were employees of Hui Hon. The assistant engineer was later transferred from the Yuen Chau Kok site to another construction site, and the vacancy was filled by an engineer who had only just graduated.

In early September 1998, Hui Hon claimed that the piling works for two of the buildings at Yuen Chau Kok had been completed. Between March and September 1998, Zen Pacific had paid $17 million to Hui Hon in project fees. Since it was clear that Hui Hon would not be able to complete the remaining works on schedule, Zen Pacific took over the work on 23 September 1998 but continued to employ the very same Hui Hon construction team to carry out the piling works for the remaining three buildings.

On 19 December 1998, within nine months after Hui Hon had commenced the works and Zen Pacific had taken them over, Zen Pacific informed HD that the piling works for all five buildings were complete. Three days later, another contractor started the construction of superstructure on top of the piled foundation. HD paid Zen Pacific $57 million as the project cost.

Even when the superstructure of the two buildings had each reached more than 30 storeys in height, no one had discovered the buildings were resting on noncompliant piling. The material evidence had been well and truly buried.


[ Text version ]