IT IS ONLY A YEAR since Fatuma Sichale was appointed deputy director of the new Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). Yet already its high-profile director has resigned saying he could not continue to serve the government and the US has frozen funding for Kenya's anti-corruption drive. President Mwai Kibaki, who swept to power two years ago on an anti-corruption ticket, is now mired in allegations of corruption under his own administration. An angry public is demanding answers to claims that US$1 billion, one-fifth of the state budget, has gone missing due to graft and kick-backs. Faced with this challenging scenario, Mrs Sichale came to Hong Kong to search for solutions that will keep the anti-corruption campaign on track. She is one of 36 top graft-busters from around the world - a third of them women - to attend a pioneering corruption studies course offered last month by HKU Space, the continuing education arm of the University of Hong Kong. The course is an intensive three-week lesson in how to use Hong Kong's 30 years of experience in cleaning up corruption to combat graft in other countries. Led by Tony Kwok Man-wai, former head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's operations department, it covers bribery, money-laundering, organised crime and fraud. Students are taught to use the three-pronged approach of the ICAC - developing preventative systems, investigations and public education in parallel - to fight graft in politics, business, the police and the public sector. Mr Kwok said: 'Every country has its own culture and degree of political will. But we believe that if a country can apply the Hong Kong model en bloque - including the strong political will, guaranteed independence of the professional body and public spirit - there is no excuse for why it should not be successful.' The course is typically taken by officials in anti-corruption agencies and the police who are seeking information that they can use in their jobs. Participants in the first three courses have come from 17 countries and this year included four from Hong Kong, including one assistant to an executive councillor, two government officials and one nominated by a private company. Unique Leung Ho-yan, who has just qualified as a legal trainee with the Department of Justice, took the programme because she is interested in criminal law and wanted to gain additional relevant knowledge and experience for her career. 'In Hong Kong, lawyers are mainly interested in money but we should do more to help society,' she said. 'One area that Hong Kong has been successful in over the past 30 years is fighting corruption. 'However, it is essential we maintain the impetus today by ensuring that all corruption cases are prosecuted vigorously. 'The public sector is doing well in terms of anti-corruption measures. But it's time for the government to put more resources into fighting corruption in the private sector.' Mr Kwok said he was advocating that private firms here appoint a business ethics manager - a trend already underway in the US after the Enron scandal - to oversee corporate governance, business ethics and staff integrity and the course could help to meet such a need. HKU Space is offering three scholarships to help enable officials from the mainland, where corruption is an acknowledged problem, to take part. Mr Kwok said three mainland officers applied to join this year but delays in processing paperwork prevented them. They are being enrolled for next year. Shyam Nadan, senior investigator with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Mauritius, said that he found learning about case management - and managing complex cases - was one of the most valuable aspects of the course. Such cases were rare but when they did arise required both real perseverance and first-rate skills for dealing with high-profile people, large numbers of documents, security issues and a wide range of experts. 'It has boosted my confidence to have a framework for how to start attacking such a case. Large-scale offences can happen and tomorrow you find that the evidence has disappeared. You have to act quickly. That is why you need a good strategy,' he said. Mr Nadan said that ideas for public education campaigns against corruption were also invaluable. 'The public are essential partners of any anti-corruption agency,' he said. 'This year the Mauritius ICAC launched a youth forum on the fight against corruption using songs and drama. We may now look at building up the public education side through the school curriculum and advertising campaigns in the mass media.' Students on the course also carry out group projects designed to encourage exchange by comparing the anti-corruption techniques used in different countries. Mr Kwok said: 'It offers them the opportunity to share experience and pick up best practice from other countries.' Mrs Sichale has plenty to reflect on. Amid calls for ministerial resignations, the KACC is now prosecuting six permanent secretaries and 14 heads of state-owned companies for corruption. It has also been involved in a 'radical surgery of the judiciary' that is unparalleled in the British Commonwealth in a bid to ensure the court system is itself clean enough to deal with large numbers of corruption cases. Over two years, 17 high court judges and six appeal court judges have been shown the door. 'For an organisation to fight corruption that organisation itself must be incorruptible. It must be like Caesar's wife - beyond reproach. There is really no shortcut to this. Hong Kong ICAC have officers that they have employed specifically for the purpose of receiving complaints from members of the public as regards their own officials. That is another lesson that I take home.' Mrs Sichale said she believed the only answer was to show those involved in corruption that the KACC was steadfast in its will and, no matter how long they stalled the process, the day of reckoning would come. Even Mr Kwok concedes that the basic commitment and courage of the graft-buster is something that cannot be taught. There is always the possibility that you could end up like Giovanni Falcone, Italy's leading anti-Mafia magistrate, who was killed in a motorway bombing outside Palermo. But he says good structures are essential to support individual officers, such as a new alumni association for the course. It will provide the first global network for front-line officers with opportunities for mutual support and international co-operation. The full-time course costs $18,000 and runs annually, with the next one starting in November next year. It leads to a postgraduate certificate in corruption studies.