Ethical leadership and good governance – key to business success
ICAC Commissioner Mr Simon Peh Yun-lu today (Friday) called on corporate leaders and professionals to strive to foster an ethical culture from boardrooms to storerooms and steer their enterprises in a direction that went beyond compliance.
Addressing over 500 participants at the ICAC’s Conference on Business Ethics for Listed Companies 2017 entitled “Corporate Governance: Compliance and Beyond”, Mr Peh said given the importance of listed companies to Hong Kong’s economy and the substantial investors’ interest involved, listed companies were always a priority target of ICAC’s anti-corruption initiatives.
“The ICAC believes that the first line of defence against corruption is ethical governance,” said Mr Peh.
“Good governance is not only crucial to business growth, but also contributive to market integrity and public confidence in the financial system,” Mr Peh said. “The strong effort put to enhance listed companies’ governance has certainly added value to Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness,” Mr Peh added.
As a standing arrangement, the ICAC offers education services to every company within three months of their listing.
During the past decade, over 26,000 directors and senior executives of listed companies attended ICAC seminars and talks on corruption prevention and business ethics, while over 1,000 listed companies had mapped out their anti-corruption initiatives hand in hand with ICAC officers.
Meeting the press after the conference’s opening, Mr Peh said while Hong Kong’s graft situation remained stable and well under control, the ICAC was staying alert at all times, especially when publicly listed companies were involved.
The Commissioner said in the past five years, the ICAC initiated 13 prosecutions against senior executives of listed companies for corruption-related offences. One of those prosecutions involved illegal transactions amounted to about $2.8 billion, while in another case bribe money to the tune of $19 million was involved.
At today’s conference, Acting Financial Secretary Mr James Lau delivered a keynote speech.
ICAC’s Director of Community Relations Mr Raymond Ng Kwok-ming also shared with participants at the plenary session common corrupt practices revealed in past ICAC cases involving listed companies and the Commission’s efforts in building a culture of ethical leadership and corporate governance.
Speaking at the panel discussion, ICAC’s Director of Corruption Prevention Ms Rita Lily Liaw told participants the importance of developing an anti-graft management system within an enterprise, and updated the audience on the ICAC’s corruption prevention services for listed companies.
Wrapping up the conference, Chairman of the Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Advisory Committee Professor Cliff Sun Kai-lit said the business sector recognised the importance of a clean business environment to Hong Kong’s success, adding that all stakeholders should work in concert to enhance ethical leadership and corporate governance.
Following the conference, Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Mr Chow Chung-kong shared his insights on strengthening the culture of corporate governance at a luncheon.
Over the past 20 years, ICAC Community Relations Department’s Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Centre (HKBEDC), partnering with professional bodies, trade associations and chambers of commerce, had strived to foster an ethical culture within the business community.
Taking into consideration the latest international trends and development of local legal and regulatory framework in enhancing corporate governance, as well as increasing public concern over the ethical standard of listed companies, a three-year Ethics Promotion Programme for Listed Companies was launched in 2015.
The programme was spearheaded by the HKBEDC and co-organised by 18 institutional stakeholders including regulatory bodies, government departments, professional bodies and member chambers of its advisory committee.
Under the programme, a comprehensive training package, comprising hypothetical cases and training videos on ethical challenges faced by company directors, senior executives and professionals was launched. In addition, a preventive toolkit was updated with case studies and practical advice to help company management assess and monitor ethical challenges and corruption risks.
In view of the requirement on disclosure of anti-corruption policies by all listed companies in Hong Kong which took effect from the 2016 fiscal year, the Corruption Prevention Advisory Service (CPAS) of ICAC’s Corruption Prevention Department (CPD) published the Anti-Corruption Programme – A Guide for Listed Companies to assist listed companies in formulating, implementing and reviewing corporate anti-corruption policies and programmes. Over the years, CPAS has also helped companies and private organisations strengthen their systems and procedures for the prevention of corruption and related malpractice.
As a highlight event of the Programme, today’s conference featured 13 speakers and moderators from the ICAC, law enforcement and regulatory bodies, professional organisations and academics who shared with the audience recent regulatory development of corporate governance and practitioners’ experience in promoting business ethics.
Attending the conference were over 500 corporate leaders and professionals from some 250 institutions, including about 200 listed companies of Hong Kong.
Following the conference, the HKBEDC will approach all listed companies in Hong Kong to provide support and guidance for strengthening ethical governance, while the CPAS will offer tailor-made corruption prevention advisory services.
ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu (fifth right of the front row), Acting Financial Secretary James Lau (sixth right of the front row) pictured with speakers, moderators and representatives from co-organisers.
Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu delivers opening remarks at the Conference.
Acting Financial Secretary James Lau delivers a keynote speech.
Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu (left) pictured with Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Chow Chung-kong (middle) and Chairman of the Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Advisory Committee Professor Cliff Sun Kai-lit at the luncheon.