As many as 30 people have now been arrested in an anti-graft operation for allegedly accepting and offering illegal kickbacks related to the lease and sale of properties. A source yesterday said 19 existing and one former staff member of Centaline Property Agency had been arrested over the past three days. They were seven senior executives, seven managerial grade staff, three estate agents and two other employees of the real estate company. Seven directors of other companies and three other individuals were also arrested. All were arrested for allegedly violating the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance in relation to the lease and sale of properties, and most of them have been released on bail. The ICAC investigation 'originated from allegations in relation to the offering and acceptance of illegal kickbacks in a number of property transactions and the lease of industrial and commercial premises', an ICAC statement said. Speaking at the Legco security panel meeting yesterday, ICAC commissioner Raymond Wong Hung-chiu said there was no grey area under the law regarding the kickback system in the industry. 'There is no grey area under the law. Property agents know well what kind of commission is legal and what is illegal,' he said. The number of corruption cases reported to the ICAC concerning property agents had been steady and remained at 50 to 70 cases a year, he said. The commission received 2,461 corruption reports in the first nine months of this year, compared with 2,680 in the same period last year. Sixty per cent were related to the private sector, while government departments accounted for 33 per cent and public bodies 7 per cent. The property sector accounted for 3 per cent of complaints about the private sector. Mr Wong said the ICAC had jointly introduced a scheme with the Estate Agents Authority to make agents aware of the law as the property market recovered and more new blood joined the profession. 'The programme covers quite a lot of areas, including offering help to property agencies to set codes of practice to regulate staff and strengthen supervision of agents,' he said. Seminars and workshops would also be held to enhance property agent awareness regarding ethics and corruption prevention. The chairman of the Property Agencies Association, Tony Kwok Tak-leung, said most agents were law-abiding. 'The industry does not tolerate any illegal kickbacks and we urge all agents to report corruption cases if they come across any,' he said.