The former laboratory staff were convicted of producing false records on the concrete compression tests for the Civil Engineering & Development Department (CEDD) project. They had been charged by Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption.
District Judge Clement Lee Hing-nin found the 12 defendants guilty of a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud and remanded them in the custody until today (21st November) for mitigation.
The defendants were eight former site laboratory technicians of Jacobs China Limited (JCL) - Yu Wai-tak, 30, Lee Wing-fai, 26, Sit Ka-chun, 27, Chan Yui-hang, 24, Yiu Yu-fung, 50, Yip Tak-kit, 29, Ng Man-hung, 28, and Cheung Ka-ming, 30; and four former laboratory assistants of JCL—Tse Tak-lai, 37, Lee Chi-kan, 25, Jo Chan Chi-shing, 60, and Kwok Man-fai, 36.
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 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).
In accordance with the required procedures, a staff member of the laboratory would place sample concrete cube inside a compression machine connecting 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 the test result on a worksheet, the laboratory staff should have ensured that the test result was 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 six other laboratory staff conspired together and with other people 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.
The two PTOs believed the information contained in the reports to be genuine and certified the reports under the HOKLAS, the court heard.
The six other laboratory staff concerned, who were also charged for their roles in the scam, earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud. Five of them were sentenced to terms of imprisonment whilst the remaining one has been remanded in the custody of the CSD until today for mitigation.