ICAC to run ethics school for firms

A SCHOOL will be set up next year to give business executives lessons on how to avoid corruption.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) says it also expects to launch a renewed education campaign at schools and universities.

ICAC community relations director Eddie So said in the drive to strike business deals and relationships on the mainland, many firms appeared to be neglecting internal controls.

There was also a potential for ethics to be undermined.

'We feel business expansion on too quick a scale is troubling,' he said.

'Internal controls are becoming very, very fragile - if not ineffective - because of this expansion into China.

'If the community does not take this problem seriously, it is going to affect our reputation as being one of the best places in the world in which to do business.

'It would be very sad to see apathy, negligence or even ignorance tarnish this reputation,' Mr So said.

'We are looking at dedicated in-service training for senior executives where company-sponsored business people would be exposed to a structured course in system control in terms of corruption prevention.' The ICAC ethics development centre will open in April.

It is likely to be housed in a separate section of the commission's office in Wan Chai.

Leading chambers of commerce have agreed to sponsor the project.

These groups include the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association, representing all mainland-funded firms in the territory.

Mr So said he wanted to expand the ICAC's educational role because 13 per cent of schools had not utilised a moral education programme. 'Many non-user schools say they are too busy to take up our courses, but we will be targeting this with greater effort,' he said.

'We will send our own people into the schools, if necessary, to conduct the courses because we feel so strongly about this matter.' Apart from the schools, the ICAC hopes to work with the territory's seven universities and polytechnics to form a special ethics curriculum.

News of the formation of the business ethics school follows the release last week of a report by the ICAC Review Committee which proposed the commission expand its community relations profile.