Rise in Hong Kong corruption complaints to ICAC attributed to more allegations about private sector as city economy recovers

“However, I think it is important for the commission to spread the message [against graft] through large-scale operations.”

(From left) Simon Ho, the chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Relations, Bernard Chan, Martin Liao and Kelvin Wong of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, highlight the city’s anti-graft results last year. Photo: Dickson Lee

There were 1,439 complaints about the private sector in 2023, which accounted for 72 per cent of the total, a 22 per cent rise on the year before, but 13 per cent lower than the figures for 2019.

Complaints against government departments made up 23 per cent of submissions and those against public bodies took up 6 per cent, at 111 cases.

Chan highlighted that the number of complaints against public bodies, including the police force, declined last year.

Corruption cases that involved public officers dropped to 451, a 15 per cent reduction. There were 13 civil servants prosecuted on corruption charges and another 62 were referred back to their bureaus for disciplinary hearings and investigations.

The agency took 204 people to court, which resulted in 139 convictions.

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“The committee was glad to see no signs of resurgence for systemic corruption,” Chan added.

The police force was the subject of the highest number of complaints about public organisations at 104, followed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department with 61 and the Housing Department on 29.

But the number of submissions received involving the three departments declined over the year before. Complaints against the police went down the most, by 16 per cent from 124 cases in 2022.

The building management industry topped the number of corruption complaints involving the private sector, with 544 complaints, 30 per cent up on 2022.

The finance and insurance sector took second place with 142 complaints, and the construction industry was third with 131.

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Chan declined to comment on the progress of an investigation into a medical research centre run by the Chinese University of Hong Kong involving allegations of corruption, misconduct in public office and misappropriation of public funds.

But he added the operations review committee would get regular updates from the agency on investigations and told the public that the supervision mechanism in place was “very professional”.

Kelvin Wong Tin-yau, the chairman of the corruption prevention advisory committee, added that the ICAC had published anti-graft guidelines for a variety of sectors, from property management to banking and legal practice, to help companies guard against corruption.

Martin Liao Cheung-kong, the chairman of the advisory committee on corruption, speaking as the agency launched the Hong Kong International Academy Against Corruption last Wednesday, praised the commission for its role in fostering cooperation with its counterparts across the world.


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