$70,000 fine for building directors’ fraudulent and deceptive conduct – Sinyeen Michelle Kua and Darian Paul Bolton of Western Australian Construction Pty Ltd
- Directors admit to sourcing and providing fake insurance certificates, falsely representing a project value and failing to ensure oversight of building services
- State Administrative Tribunal orders global fines of $35,000 each
- Western Australian Construction Pty Ltd entered administration in 2020
Two former building company directors have been fined a total of $70,000 after admitting to forging insurance certificates and other serious misconduct that put consumers at risk and misled authorities.
The State Administrative Tribunal orders against Sinyeen Michelle Kua and Darian Paul Bolton related to breaches of WA’s builder registration laws while they were in charge of former registered building contractor Western Australian Construction Pty Ltd (WAC).
The Kardinya-based company entered administration in December 2020.
Following mediation at the SAT with Building and Energy, the agreed facts show Ms Kua and Mr Bolton engaged in fraudulent conduct relating to a building service by paying a forger to create seven false home indemnity insurance (HII) certificates in 2019 and 2020. They provided the fraudulent documents to local governments to obtain building permits for WAC to construct homes in Maylands, North Fremantle and Armadale.
Builders must obtain HII for home building work valued at $20,000 or more to provide some financial protection for consumers if the builder dies, disappears or becomes insolvent. Since early 2019, WAC had been refused any further HII certificates due to concerns about its finances.
The agreed facts also describe misleading or deceptive conduct regarding a home renovation project in Wembley. In May 2019, WAC submitted a building permit application to the Town of Cambridge with a work value of $42,185. After the local authority requested an HII certificate, WAC submitted an updated application to show a false and misleading value of $19,950, which is below the threshold requiring HII. The home owner was unaware of the change in value submitted to the Town of Cambridge and the original contracted works continued as agreed.
According to the agreed facts, Ms Kua, Mr Bolton and WAC also failed to ensure adequate management and supervision of their building services because of the lack of engagement, and sometimes complete absence, of the company’s nominated supervisors for approximately three years. The role was instead functionally carried out by Mr Bolton, who did not hold the building practitioner registration required to be a nominated supervisor.
This resulted in serious building defects across a number of sites, including one case that led to the City of Bayswater issuing an emergency building order. WAC clients were left with substandard and unfinished work, but they could not claim rectification costs because there were no legitimate HII certificates in place.
The SAT imposed global fines of $35,000 each for Ms Kua and Mr Bolton in relation to their conduct under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011.
Mr Bolton committed to no longer work in the building service industry in any capacity, while Ms Kua was only briefly involved with the building sector while at WAC and has not had any involvement since.
The SAT orders, issued on 19 May 2022, follow other disciplinary action by Building and Energy for management and supervision failures by two former nominated supervisors at WAC. In February 2022, Wayne Anthony Jones (BC/BP10528) received a $10,000 penalty in the SAT, and in September 2021 the Building Services Board issued a caution to Salah M.A. Qarout (BP102011).
Building and Energy also published a consumer warning in June 2020 about the company entering into home building contracts without the required HII.
Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan strongly condemned the company’s practices and the conduct of its staff.
“They showed a blatant disregard for the entire building approval and regulation system, which ultimately aims to keep the community safe by ensuring buildings are constructed properly,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“The significant fines in this matter should send a clear message that this misconduct, which includes the forgery of insurance certificates, is utterly unacceptable.
“The work was not properly supervised and home owners were left with incomplete and shoddy buildings, coupled with no home indemnity insurance to protect them. I urge home owners to check a valid HII certificate is in place for their project by contacting insurance provider QBE or using its online register at qbe.com.”
Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au
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