Profiles: Hong Kong

Last Updated: February 2014


Before the inception of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974, the police had the responsibility for fighting corruption. After Hong Kong’s reunification with mainland China in 1997, ICAC’s independent status was guaranteed by the Basic Law – a constitutional document for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The ICAC Commissioner is now directly accountable to the chief executive of the HKSAR Government. Since its inception, the ICAC has adopted a three-pronged strategy of effective law enforcement, prevention, and education in fighting corruption.

Does your government have a single or primary anticorruption strategy?

Since its inception in 1974, the ICAC has been a unique anti-corruption agency, which is directly answerable to the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), People’s Republic of China, who is the head of the HKSAR government. The ICAC adopts a three-pronged strategy of effective law enforcement, prevention and education in the fight against corruption, respectively undertaken by the Operations Department, the Corruption Prevention Department and the Community Relations Department.

What are the main anticorruption laws of your country?

In Hong Kong, the main anti-corruption law is the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO), which governs corruption in both the public and private sectors. Law enforcement powers, including the power of arrest, detention, search and seizure, are vested in the ICAC Ordinance. Apart from the POBO, the ICAC also enforces the Elections (Corruption and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, which deals with corrupt and illegal conduct in various public elections, including the Chief Executive election, the Legislative Council election and District Councils elections.

Is there one agency in charge of coordinating AC efforts across agencies?

The ICAC is the dedicated anti-corruption agency. It coordinates with other government departments, regulatory bodies and public bodies on anti-corruption initiatives.

Functions Research,Prevention,Investigation,Forensic,Accounting
Permanent Staff 1 300
Number of prosecutors(if applicable) In Hong Kong, the prosecution is the responsibility of a separate department - Department of Justice.
Number of investigators (if Applicable) Establishment: 1,415 Strength: 1335 (as at 31.12.2013)

Number of cases handled annually

4,010 corruption complaints and 608 election-related complaints received in 2011. (Note: They are corruption complaints which require investigation to ascertain if the allegations are substantiated.)

Budget Autonomy No
Annual Budget of the Agency The estimated budget for the financial year 2013/14 which begins on 1 April is HK$ 920 million
Are employees protected by law from recrimination or other negative consequences when reporting corruption (i.e. whistle-blowing)? No
Does your country have freedom of information legislation? No
Does your country have conflict of interest legislation? No
Does your country have a financial disclosure system to help prevent conflicts of interest? Yes
Who appoints the head of your agency? The Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption is appointed by the State Council of the Peoples’ Republic of China, on recommendation of the Chief Executive of HKSAR Government.
Who has the authority to remove the head of the ACA? The same process and mechanism apply as in the appointment.
Is there any term limit for the head of the ACA? Yes , 5 years
Does your agency measure performance? Yes
Number of investigations launched
Number of investigations completed
Other, please specify
On the law enforcement front: the number of corruption reports, investigations completed, persons prosecuted and convicted.
On corruption prevention front: studies on corruption prone areas and monitoring of the implementation of corruption prevention advice, and corruption prevention advice given to private and public organisations.
(iii) On community relations, corruption prevention service and training given to various trades and industries, public organizations, the civil service and young people, as well as election briefings and education for candidates during public elections
Full access to Government Yes