ICAC plugs holes amid shortage of investigators

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am


The city's graft buster is trying to work around a serious shortage of investigators, which has forced it to promote a number of officers to the rank of principal investigator and extend one officer's term past the official retirement age.

In the past two years, more than 10 officers, including some senior officers, have left the Independent Commission Against Corruption to join the Independent Police Complaints Council.

Of 18 principal investigative officers who are team leaders, six are in an 'acting' capacity - a six-month probationary period before a promotion becomes official.

Three out of four assistant directors of the operations department are also working in an acting capacity, according to the government's directory.

One expatriate chief investigator has been promoted to principal investigator - even though he is due to retire in mid-2012 when he turns 60.

An ICAC spokesman said that under normal circumstances, officers must leave upon reaching retirement age. But it had extended the expat officer's term until September, 2013 because of 'operational needs'.

He said the expatriate had five years' experience as a chief investigator. Any officer who was considered capable for the post could immediately be promoted.

He was responding to a letter sent to the South China Morning Post, signed by 'a former ICAC officer', in which the writer questioned why the expatriate was chosen for promotion.

The officer lacked frontline investigation experience, and 'what he does best was just to write speeches' for Daniel Li Ming-chak, head of the Operations Department, the letter said.

Neither the expatriate nor Li could be reached for comment.

'There are other chief investigators who are more deserving because of their contribution to vigorous daily investigative work,' the letter said.

'Many have also acted [above their rank], for administrative convenience, as principal investigators for years, doing PI duties all the time without recognition of their abilities.'

The expatriate, who joined the commission in the 1990s, was previously a police officer in Britain.

He was now heading a team involved mainly with support work instead of frontline investigating, the letter said.

The unnamed former officer complained in his letter that there had been 'unpredictable and manipulative treatment' of officers at the ICAC resulting in an exodus, as well as a number of court blunders.