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Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

‘Geopolitical tensions could further hurt Hong Kong’s global corruption ranking’

‘Geopolitical tensions could further hurt Hong Kong’s global corruption ranking’

City last year recorded 1,835 corruption complaints, down from 2,264 in 2021, according to Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Hong Kong’s ranking in a global anti-corruption index could drop further due to geopolitical tensions despite fewer complaints recorded last year, the graft-buster’s chief has warned, as he vowed to step up efforts to defend the city against “attacks” by Western countries.

Danny Woo Ying-ming, the commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), on Monday also revealed that an academy would be set up to train local and overseas graft-busters.

According to the watchdog, the city last year recorded 1,835 corruption complaints, excluding those linked to elections, down from 2,264 in 2021.

ICAC Commissioner Danny Woo.

“The ICAC [believes] the decrease [is] attributable to dwindling economic activities caused by the fifth wave of the pandemic in early 2022, which [is] similar to the situation at the onset of the pandemic outbreak in 2020,” the agency said.

Hong Kong ranked 12th in the world’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021 and 2022, one place down from 2020.

But Woo warned the international ranking might drop further due to geopolitical tensions, adding the watchdog would strive to defend the city against “attacks” by Western countries and media.

“With heightening geopolitical tensions, Hong Kong’s rule of law is under attack and has been smeared,” he said during an interview with local media, adding the Corruption Perceptions Index had also been affected.

He said the ICAC would continue to highlight Hong Kong’s rule of law and stability to the rest of the world, as well as strengthen the international community’s trust in the city’s future and business environment.

According to the annual review released by the watchdog on Monday, there was a decline across-the-board in the number of corruption complaints concerning the government sector, public bodies and private sector.

The number of pursuable complaints also decreased by 17 per cent from 1,738 in 2021 to 1,438 last year.

After plunging to a 40-year low in 2020, corruption complaints rebounded by 18 per cent from 1,924 to 2,264 in 2021, with the commission attributing the rise to the receding Covid-19 pandemic.

But Woo said: “Throughout the years, the city’s high level of integrity has been hard-earned by the public, the government and the ICAC … I’m confident that Hong Kong will not be hit hard by corruption, even after the return to normality.”

The agency said it had been gathering resources and facilities to establish its International Anti-Corruption Academy to provide “systematic and sustainable” training to anti-graft and law enforcement agencies in the city and around the world.

Woo added the academy would also promote the city’s integrity and increase its performance in anti-corruption ratings.

The city’s civil services and public bodies last year remained “generally clean and honest”, the watchdog said, as corruption complaints against them dropped from 645 to 533 and 137 to 121, respectively, from 2021 to 2022.

Complaints linked to the private sector fell by 20 per cent, from 1,482 to 1,181, with the bulk of those related to the building management, construction, finance and insurance industries.


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