Hong Kong’s internationally respected Independent Commission Against Corruption is facing turmoil at the top as the future of its deputy commissioner and most senior investigator hangs in the balance. Despite still being officially listed last night as head of the powerful investigative unit that has spearheaded the work of the ICAC over more than four decades – the Operations Department – sources have told the Post that Rebecca Li Bo-lan’s short reign as anti-graft investigator-in-chief is over. First woman to head Hong Kong’s graft-buster ICAC Li became the first woman to lead the investigative arm of the commission when she took over, in an acting capacity, from retired graft fighter Ryan Wong Sai-chiu on July 17 last year. In 2000, she became the first ICAC officer to be sent for special training with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unconfirmed reports emerged on Wednesday that the 53-year-old – described by former and still serving colleagues as “uncompromising” and “the type of investigator that no-one under a cloud of suspicion would want on their tail’’ – would be replaced by younger, rising star, Ricky Yau Shu-chun. Due to the seniority and sensitivity of the position she was given in an acting capacity almost exactly a year ago, her confirmation as Hong Kong’s top anti-corruption fighter would have required the approval of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and, almost certainly, clearance from Beijing. The commission declined to answer any questions on Li’s position on Wednesday and neither Li nor her apparent successor Yau were answering their phones. However, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Post : “She has told her colleagues that the decision has been made and she is gone. The whole organisation is waiting for an internal announcement to confirm what is already a done deal.’’ Another source told the Post that a formal statement would be made by ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh “very soon”. ICAC boss reveals succession failures The Operations Department is the investigative arm of the ICAC and its largest department, with a staff of more than 800 people. Li joined the ICAC in 1984 as an assistant investigation officer in the Operations Department. Her talent was recognised early and she was the first officer to be sent to the FBI for training. In 2002, she was promoted to chief investigation officer, and two years later to assistant director of investigations. In 2010, she became director of operations managing private-sector probes. In 2007, Li received the ICAC medal for distinguished service. Li has worked on such high-profile cases as the arrest of Mo Yuk-ping, the wife of Shanghai tycoon Chau Ching-ngai, who was convicted of bribery, falsifying tax invoices and embezzlement. Mo was convicted of manipulating the shares of her husband’s former company and served a two-year sentence for conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. Li also headed the probe into former deputy inland revenue commissioner Agnes Sin Law Yuk-lin, who swindled the city out of HK$330,000 in rental allowances.