Nearly 80 Hong Kong civil servants referred to their departments following corruption complaints so far this year, ICAC says

  • But commission says corruption complaints overall are down 6 per cent year on year
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 8:40am

Hong Kong’s graft-buster referred 78 civil servants back to their departments for possible disciplinary action in the first 11 months of the year following corruption complaints against them, a 20 per cent year-on-year bump.

The surge came despite a 6 per cent decline in corruption complaints overall, while the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Tuesday stressed that graft in the city was well under control.

Between January and November, the agency received 2,494 non-election-related complaints, of which two-thirds (1,655 cases) were against people in the private sector and 27 per cent against government departments. The remaining 7 per cent involved public bodies.

Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun, chairman of the ICAC’s operations review committee, which oversees its investigations, said he recommended referring the 78 government workers to their bureaus and departments for possible disciplinary or administrative action even if they had not broken the law, as they could still have conducted themselves badly.

“We cannot therefore assume that the performance of civil servants is deteriorating. Maybe they have been doing better, because corruption many of these cases did not involve corruption, but rather disciplinary problems,” Tang said. “We have reflected it to the Civil Service Bureau.”

Of the 78 people complained about, 33 were accused of providing false information or misuse of authority, according to the agency. Another 11 allegedly neglected their duty, while 10 were accused of accepting improper loans.

Corruption complaints against public bodies climbed by 7 per cent to 178 cases in the first 11 months of this year, compared with the same period of 2017.

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It was the only category out of the three – public bodies, government and private sector – that recorded a surge in complaints. The Hospital Authority led the pack among public bodies with 39 cases, up by one, year on year. It was followed by the MTR Corporation with 21 cases, compared with 13 cases in the first 11 months of 2017. The rest of the 19 complaints involved district councils.

The commission prosecuted 176 individuals in cases that were not election-related in the first 11 months, down by 24 per cent.

As of November 30, the graft-buster had received 81 election-related complaints, which mainly concerned the Legislative Council by-election held in March. During the period, one person was charged pending trial, two people were formally cautioned and 177 people received warnings.