Falsified references used for builder registration – Lipeng Cao

A Parmelia man has been fined $5,000 after his application for building practitioner registration was found to include incorrect or misleading information, including falsified references.

Lipeng Cao was also ordered to pay $1,000 in costs when a State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) matter concluded on 11 May 2020 following disciplinary proceedings commenced by Building and Energy.

Mr Cao’s building practitioner registration was granted in March 2017 and expired in March 2020.

According to agreed facts presented at the SAT, Mr Cao’s 2017 application included two reference letters that appeared to confirm he had the required experience of carrying out or supervising building work for at least 84 months.

One letter was from a senior staff member at a building company, stating that Mr Cao had been a supervisor there for two-and-a-half years. Building and Energy’s subsequent investigation revealed that Mr Cao was in the role for just four months and, although the business did provide a reference, the dates in the original letter had been altered.

The other letter was signed by ‘Ray Jackson’ and claimed that Mr Cao had been a supervisor for a registered building practitioner for five-and-a-half years. Inquiries by Building and Energy found that the building practitioner mentioned in the letter had neither employed nor ever met Mr Cao.

Ray Jackson was also revealed to be a fictitious identity. Emails sent by registration officers to Ray Jackson to confirm the facts of Mr Cao’s application were actually answered by staff at a third-party business that Mr Cao had engaged to help prepare his application.

“The registration system for builders is designed to protect consumers by providing assurances that the person carrying out the work is suitably qualified and experienced,” Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said.

“Obtaining registration under false pretences puts consumers at risk and undermines the integrity of those who have worked hard and authentically obtained their registration.

“Safety, quality and compliance are paramount in the building services industry and we will continue to take action against anyone who uses false and misleading information.”

The register of builders can be viewed and searched at commerce.wa.gov.au/buildersearch.

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