The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is an anti-corruption
agency independent of the civil service. Its commissioner is directly accountable to
the Chief Executive.
During the year, the ICAC continued to keep corruption in check through its
three-pronged strategy of investigation, prevention and community education. As a
result of sustained anti-corruption efforts, Hong Kong continued to be rated by
international institutions as one of the most corruption-free places in the world.
To provide an international forum for exchanging ideas and experiences in the
fight against graft, the ICAC hosted the Third ICAC Symposium — Corporate
Corruption, Integrity and Governance in May 2006. The three-day international
conference was attended by more than 400 delegates from 41 jurisdictions.
The ICAC continued to enjoy a high degree of public confidence. According to
an opinion survey conducted by an independent research company in 2006, an
overwhelming 98.9 per cent of respondents expressed support for the anti-graft
body. During the year, 73 per cent of complainants revealed their identities when
lodging corruption reports to the commission — the highest since its inception.
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) applies to Hong
Kong. It came into effect in February 2006, establishing an important milestone in
Hong Kong's cooperation with the world in combating corruption.
The corruption situation in Hong Kong remained stable in 2006. During the year,
the ICAC received 3 339 corruption reports, excluding election-related complaints, a
drop of 9 per cent from the previous year. Of these, 32 per cent or 1 068 concerned
government departments while 61 per cent or 2 037 were related to the private
sector. The remaining 7 per cent or 234 reports were against public bodies.
In 2006, the commission received 57 complaints alleging corrupt or illegal
conduct relating to public elections, which included the District Council by-elections,
the Legislative Council election, the Rural Committee elections, Village Representative
elections and by-elections, and the Election Committee Subsector elections.
As a result of vigorous enforcement actions, corruption in Hong Kong has
become a high-risk crime. The ICAC's Operations Department looks into every
pursuable corruption complaint and is proactive in exposing unreported cases. The
department maintains close ties with other disciplined services, government
departments, regulatory bodies and key industries in order to crack down on
corruption more effectively.
During the year, a number of public servants were prosecuted for misconduct in
public office and corruption related to the awarding of contracts and connivance in
substandard works or services. In the private sector, a number of commercial fraud
and bribery cases were exposed. These cases involved listed companies, massive bank
loans, embezzlement of corporate funds, fraudulent insurance claims and the
awarding of contracts and tenders.
At year-end, the department was dealing with 1 438 corruption cases, which
included 41 election-related ones. Some of the cases were of a sophisticated and
complex nature, and required more intricate and protracted investigations. During the
year, 341 people were prosecuted and 45 cautioned in accordance with the advice of
the Department of Justice. The overall conviction rate soared to a record high of
88 per cent during the year.
The Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance (ICSO) was
enacted in August 2006 to regulate covert surveillance and telecommunications
interception carried out by law enforcement agencies. Following the promulgation of
the ICSO, the ICAC has drawn up operational procedures to ensure compliance with
the statutory requirements.
The Corruption Prevention Department has a statutory duty to advise
government departments and public bodies on measures to minimise corruption risks
in their systems and procedures. By working closely with the management of these
organisations, the department identifies potential opportunities for corruption, and
recommends ways to plug these loopholes and strengthen system controls.
During the year, the department conducted 96 corruption prevention reviews
covering different areas of public administration including environmental protection,
public works, public housing, education, public procurement and law enforcement.
The department also provided expeditious advice on 348 occasions to public sector
organisations to help them build corruption prevention measures into procedures,
legislation or policies which were being drawn up.
The department's Advisory Services Group provides free and confidential advice
in corruption prevention to private sector organisations upon request. In 2006, the
group offered advice to private sector organisations on 366 occasions. It also issues
Best Practice Packages to provide general guidelines for these organisations to
minimise corruption opportunities in common problematic areas such as procurement
and contract management. In addition, workshops were organised for various trades
and industries to help them implement the recommended best practices.
To address problems revealed in the operation of some travel agents, the group
promulgated a Best Practice Module that provides a checklist of best practices for
travel agents to follow. Two seminars were organised with the regulatory authorities
in the banking and telecommunications industries respectively to raise staff
awareness to potential corruption risks in handling customer data.
The Community Relations Department is responsible for educating the public
against the evils of corruption and enlisting public support for anti-corruption drives
with the help of the mass media and through face-to-face meetings with the public.
To further sustain a culture of probity in the civil service, the department and the
Civil Service Bureau launched a programme on ethical leadership at the end of 2006.
Under this programme, government bureaux and departments will assign directorate
officers to act as ethics officers to take charge of the strategy and implementation of
initiatives to further strengthen integrity in their organisations.
The department also continued to help different industries and professions in the
private sector to improve their business and professional ethics. The department
produced a training package for the banking and financial services industries, which
contains practical guidelines for ethical management and for local managers
employed by Hong Kong-funded banks operating on the Mainland.
With the support of the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) and six major trade
associations, the department drew up a two-year training programme to help estate
agents further enhance their professional ethical standards. The programme
comprises seminars and workshops for the industry's senior managers and frontline
staff. Moreover, anti-corruption laws are one of the core subjects taught under the
EAA's Continuing Professional Development Programme.
To help young people become future ethical leaders, a youth training
programme comprising a series of workshops and a case study competition was
launched for tertiary students. The programme culminates in a youth summit, to be
held in March 2007, at which universities from Hong Kong, the Mainland and several
other countries will take part.
The ICAC has established a Property Management Network to encourage
property management companies to take positive action against corruption. At year-end,
the network had a membership of over 190 management staff from 85
companies. Several corruption prevention workshops and 144 anti-corruption talks
were arranged for property management companies, building consultant firms and
To ensure public elections are conducted in a clean and fair manner, the
department launched mass anti-corruption education campaigns ahead of elections
held during the year. Booklets were handed out and briefings were held to acquaint
voters and candidates with the major provisions of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal
Conduct) Ordinance. An election hotline was set up to answer queries. Posters,
leaflets and a website were also used to drive home the 'support clean elections'
A total of 318 community activities were organised with district organisations,
which included all 18 District Councils, More than 400 000 people took part in these
Apart from regular contacts with overseas law enforcement agencies, the ICAC
maintains frequent exchanges with other agencies and organisations abroad. During
the year, the commission received 319 visitors from different countries. The Serious
Organised Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, the Australian Federal Police, the
Singapore Police Force, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority of
Nepal, the Supreme Prosecutors Office of South Korea, and the Commission to
Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption of Sri Lanka were among those
overseas delegations which visited the ICAC in Hong Kong.
The UNCAC, which was ratified by the Central People's Government in late 2005
and extended to Hong Kong in February 2006, advocates international cooperation in
fighting corruption around the world through the exchange of information, surrender
of fugitive offenders and asset recovery. While Hong Kong has a strong anti-corruption
regime, the Government will make every effort to ensure full compliance with the
UNCAC. In October 2006, the ICAC Commissioner led a delegation to the First
Annual Conference and General Meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities held in Beijing to share Hong Kong's anti-corruption
experiences with other countries.
The ICAC and the Mainland procuratorate authorities continued to assist each
other in interviewing voluntary witnesses in connection with corruption investigations
carried out under the Mutual Case Assistance Scheme established in 1988. In 2006,
ICAC officers visited the Mainland on 25 times, while Mainland officers visited Hong
Kong on 37 times to seek each other's assistance.
Exchanges with the Mainland anti-corruption authorities continued to increase
during the year. The commission also held 203 talks for 6 440 visiting Mainland
officials to introduce them to Hong Kong's anti-corruption strategies and experiences.
Checks and Balances
The operation of the ICAC is subject to a stringent system of checks and
balances. Apart from judicial supervision, the commission's work is scrutinised by four
independent advisory committees — the Advisory Committee on Corruption, the
Operations Review Committee, the Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee and
the Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Relations.
An independent ICAC Complaints Committee, made up of members of the
Legislative Council and prominent citizens, monitors the handling of non-criminal
complaints against the ICAC and its officers.