Handbook of Global Research and Practice in Corruption
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Handbook of Global Research and Practice in Corruption

Edited by Adam Graycar and Russell G. Smith

Corruption is a global phenomenon with costs estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. This source of original research and policy analysis deals with the most important concepts and empirical evidence in foreign corrupt practices globally.
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Chapter 21: The Hong Kong ICAC’s Approach to Corruption Control

Ian Scott


Ian Scott Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is often regarded as a model of the way in which efforts to prevent and control corruption should be organized and implemented. Its achievement in transforming Hong Kong from a place where corrupt practices were accepted to a place in which they are the exception has been widely admired and studied (Lethbridge, 1985; Huberts, 2000; Quah, 2003, pp. 129–45; Manion, 2004, pp. 27–83; Scott, 2010, pp. 112–116, 267–70; de Speville, 2010). In those studies, the ICAC’s success is attributed to its distinctive characteristics, which may be said to form a syndrome in the sense that each of its features is thought to be necessary for the organization to work well. The principal features of this model of corruption control include: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● a single organization with a de facto monopoly over corruption control rather than multiple anti-corruption organizations performing the same function; independence from government; a strategy of prevention, education and sanction that is reflected organizationally in the division of the ICAC into Corruption Prevention, Community Relations and Operations Departments; extensive powers that include the right of arrest and detention; secure funding even in the face of major cutbacks in public expenditure; personnel of the highest moral calibre; the political will to combat corruption; and public support of sufficient strength that the ICAC has repeatedly been found to be the most trusted organization in Hong Kong. Although features of the ICAC model have been adopted elsewhere, it is difficult...

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