A series of 21 arrests conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong have called into question whether the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge may need to be rebuilt.
According to a press release by the anti-graft authority of the HKSAR, the arrests were made ‘for alleged corruption in relation to their submission of false concrete compression test reports’.
In question are two senior executives and 19 staff members of a contractor working for the Civil Engineering and Development Department, which has yet to release an official response to the arrests on its website. The ICAC notes that the government body ‘has rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation’.
The 21 individuals arrested have since been released on bail, while the anti-graft authority notes that ‘enquiries are continuing’.
The CEDD has been working with the contractor, so far unnamed by the ICAC, since 2013, having ‘engaged the contractor to conduct compression tests on samples of concrete from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Product’.
The group notes that the ‘test for each sample was required to be conducted within a set time frame and all concrete samples (in cube form) were required to pass the test’.
The results of the enquiry found that the contractor in question could have ‘adjusted the times on the testing machines to cover up irregularities’ resulting from not conducting the tests ‘within the set time frame’.
In addition, the samples themselves could have been replaced ‘by using a metal calibration cylinder and/or high strength concrete cubes to falsify the tests, so that the tests would appear to have been conducted properly’, notes the information released by the ICAC.
In addition, the enquiries by the ICAC found that ‘the two senior site laboratory technicians had certified the false test reports. It was suspected that they might have corruptly connived int the submission of the false reports to the CEDD.’
The anti-graft body notes that it suspects ‘the malpractice might have started in early 2015’, and that a corruption complaint referred by the CEDD led to the investigation.
An internal investigation, conducted by the contractor upon CEDD’s request found that ‘the use of metal calibration cylinder and/or high strength concrete cubes to falsify tests’ was not included in the investigation report by the contractor submitted to the CEDD. The ICAC notes that it suspects the contractor might have submitted the ‘misleading investigation report to the CEDD to defraud the department’.
Previous reports have affirmed the bridge would be finished by the end of this year. Business Daily contacted the CEDD for comment and awaits a response.