Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption continues to make strides in combating corruption on all fronts.
Speaking at a press conference on Dec. 20, Chow Chung-kong, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Corruption (ACOC), noted that in the first 11 months of 2017, the ICAC received 2,648 corruption complaints, a slight drop of two percent compared to the same period in 2016. Of the corruption complaints, 67 percent concerned the private sector, 27 percent related to government departments and six percent involved public bodies. Pursuable graft complaints increased by seven percent to 1,993, and the percentage of non-anonymous complaints also recorded a slight increase from 73 percent to 74 percent.
Noting that two-thirds of the corruption complaints concerned the private sector, Chung-kong said the ICAC had allocated extra resources to the corruption prevention and education work for the private sector. “To further promote international cooperation in the anti-graft cause, the ICAC has set up a dedicated unit to assist other States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, including most of the Belt and Road countries, in system and capacity building to fight corruption,” he said.
In fact, ICAC this month launched a large-scale investigation into Convoy Global Holdings, a provider of retirement planning and insurance services. In response to media inquiries, an ICAC spokesperson confirmed that the ICAC and the Securities and Futures Commission have searched eight premises in a joint operation mounted on Dec. 7.
During the operation, the ICAC said it arrested three Convoy senior executives for suspected corruption. Among those arrested was Mark Mak Kwong-yiu, Convoy’s former chief executive officer and current chairman of Lerado Financial Group. In a stock exchange filing, Lerado Financial Group said it was “invited to assist” ICAC in an investigation and that it is “cooperating with ICAC in providing documents and records.”
“While inquiries are continuing, no further comments will be made at this stage,” ICAC stated.
During the Dec. 20 press conference, individual prosecutions were discussed. Maria Tam Wai-chu, chairman of the Operations Review Committee (ORC), said despite a seven percent decrease (from 189 to 176) in the number of individuals prosecuted (excluding those in election-related cases), individual-based and case-based conviction rates increased to 80 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
In the private sector, the building management sub-sector accounted for 41 percent of the total number of complaints. To maximize the effectiveness of enforcement actions, Tam said where appropriate, intervention at an early stage would be made to frustrate possible corrupt and bid-rigging activities in addition to conventional approach of investigation.
Among other efforts discussed at the press conference was ethics. A three-year “Ethics Promotion Program for Listed Companies” was implemented in collaboration with 18 institutional stakeholders, culminating in a business ethics conference in September. In attendance at the event were over 500 directors, senior management, and 180 listed companies. A comprehensive training package comprising hypothetical cases and training videos on ethical challenges faced by stakeholders was also launched.
The Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Centre produces tailor-made practical guides and training packages for practitioners of different trades and industries. In addition to Hong Kong’s anti-corruption law, these publications and resources address the ethical issues faced by practitioners in the specific trades and professions and help them prevent corruption, as well as enhance ethical management and staff integrity of business organizations.