Hong Kong slips in global Corruption Perceptions Index
ICAC says there is no sign corruption has become a bigger problem in the city
Analysts and businessmen globally perceive Hong Kong to be less free of graft than a year ago, a survey by an international corruption watchdog finds.
But the ICAC anti-graft agency says there is no sign that corruption is becoming more rampant in the city.
The Berlin-based Transparency International ranked Hong Kong 14th globally in its Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 176 countries, territories and areas on how corrupt their public sector is seen to be, drawing on graft-related data collected by a variety of institutions.
On a scale of 100, with 100 meaning there is no corruption, Hong Kong scored 77 points, falling two places from 12th last year. This is the city's lowest ranking on the index since 2007, but it is still perceived as the second-least corrupt area in Asia, coming second after Singapore, which ranked fifth.
Denmark, Finland and New Zealand topped the list as the countries seen as being the most graft-free in the world with 90 points each. China ranked 80th while Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan were seen as being the most corrupt among the 176 ranked.
A spokesman for the Independent Commission Against Corruption said that some prominent corruption cases widely reported in the media might have affected people's perception of Hong Kong.
"But those are only isolated cases, and according to our data and analysis, the overall situation is rather stable - there are no signs showing a worsening [trend], the civil servants are clean, and corruption is being controlled," the spokesman said.
"From another perspective, that the ICAC busted these cases shows that we will not tolerate graft and are determined and efficient in fighting corruption."
Among the city's most prominent anti-graft cases this year was the investigation into the Kwok brothers who head Hong Kong's wealthiest property dynasty.
Sun Hung Kai Properties' co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 59, and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 58, were arrested by the ICAC in March with former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, 64, who led former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's election campaigns in 2005 and 2007.
The ICAC alleges that Hui took more than HK$34 million in bribes from the billionaire brothers and two others in return for favours. The case is ongoing.
Last month, the High Court allowed an application by the Department of Justice to engage British barrister David Perry QC as the lead prosecutor in the bribery trial.