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19 Charged in Concrete Testing Fraud

Friday, November 17, 2017

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Nearly six months after Hong Kong authorities arrested 21 workers over the alleged falsification of concrete lab test results on the region’s biggest bridge-and-tunnel megaproject, officials have charged 19 in connection with the scandal.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption, a government watchdog agency, filed charges Wednesday (Nov. 15) against one senior lab technician, 13 technicians and five assistants who were employed by Jacobs China Limited, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Jacobs Engineering, according to an ICAC press release. The employees are no longer working for Jacobs.

HKZM Bridge construction
© iStock.com / Only5

The fraud charges stem from work done on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, a massive bridge and underwater tunnel that’s been under construction for six years.

When the story originally broke back in May, reports indicated that 19 staff and two senior executives had been arrested. The charges stem from work done on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, a massive bridge and underwater tunnel that’s been under construction for six years.

Also on Wednesday, the Hong Kong Highways Department announced that further testing of the concrete on the project has shown that the concrete used did meet project standards.

The Charges

According to the ICAC, 18 of the staff face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud and will appear in court today (Nov. 17). One other lab technician, Wong Kwok-yiu, faces two charges of using false instruments; the agency alleges that he used computer-generated records in place of genuine compression test results on concrete samples from the bridge project. The alleged falsifications are said to have occurred between September 2012 and June 2015.

HKZM bridge
Wing1990hk, CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The HKZM project involves an 18.3-mile bridge and a 4-mile stretch of tunnel running 131 feet below the Pearl River Delta.

When the arrests were made, the ICAC said the technicians may have falsified dates on concrete compression test results, and may also have tested other materials, passing the results off as applying to the concrete cubes from the HKZM project.

While Jacobs China was working on a contract issued by the Hong Kong Civil Engineering and Development Department at the time, ICAC officials said no Hong Kong government employees were involved in the alleged conspiracy.

About the Project

The HKZM project involves an 18.3-mile bridge and a 4-mile stretch of tunnel running 131 feet below the Pearl River Delta. Work has been ongoing since 2011, and the cost has repeatedly risen during construction. Current estimates have the Hong Kong section of the project at more than HK$117 billion (about $15 billion). In addition to Hong Kong, sections of the bridge are in mainland China and Macao.

Earlier this year, authorities disclosed that in 2014, two seawalls that were built as part of the project collapsed and had to be rebuilt. The South China Morning Post reports that 10 workers have died during the project’s construction, and more than 600 have been injured.

   

Tagged categories: AS; Asia Pacific; concrete; Criminal acts; Laboratory testing; Laws and litigation; Quality Control; Quality control

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