Top managers at 2,000 listed companies in Hong Kong to get ethics training from corruption watchdog

Programme will comprise an online package and workshops, as well as seminars conducted by officers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 3:44pm

Top managers of 2,000 companies listed in Hong Kong will receive online training by the city’s graft-buster under a programme to promote ethical governance and fight anti-corruption.

In the coming year, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will launch a digital skills package on business ethics, titled “Corruption and Beyond”, while its officers will conduct workshops and seminars for senior management in companies.

The commission’s programme coincides with the latest tightening of listing rules by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, under which companies have to disclose their anti-corruption policies to keep pace with international standards.

Forty years since its creation, how the ICAC cleaned up corruption in Hong Kong

Launched at the start of the 2016 financial year, listed companies were also pressed to adopt a structured approach to risk management and conduct annual reviews.

Similar practices have been adopted by stock exchanges in South Africa, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Australia. In Britain, the European Union and mainland China, there are laws to enforce compliance with such practices.

In Hong Kong, the number of listed companies on the main board grew from 658 in 1997 to 1,746 as of the second quarter of 2017. There were also 288 others listed on the GEM, or Growth Enterprise Market.

Between 2012 and 2016, there were 13 prosecutions by the commission against senior managers of listed companies. In one of the cases, a bribe of HK$100 million was involved.

Anna Lam Shuk-yee, deputy executive director of ICAC’s Hong Kong business ethics development centre, said the commission’s education package consisted of three training videos in addition to written materials.

The information covers ethical challenges faced by company directors, senior executives and professionals during the pre-listing, as well as situations in other stages. It highlights issues such as corruption, fraud, conflict of interest and insider trading.

Lam said the commission would approach top managers in locally listed companies this month to promote the package.

“We shall run workshops and will also offer training to raise their awareness of the need to enhance the corruption prevention system of their firms,” she said.

Last month, the ICAC also organised a conference on business ethics for listed companies.