The ICAC and the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) today (Wednesday) jointly launched a three-year integrity programme to strengthen professional ethics of estate agency managers and frontline staff.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the "It Pays to Play Fair and Proper" Integrity Management Programme for the Estate Agency Trade, ICAC's Director of Community Relations, Ms Julie Mu Fee-man said as the public counted on the expertise and professional advice of estate agents in buying, selling or renting properties, the ICAC attached great importance to enhancing integrity of practitioners in the trade.
"We believe that honest employees and companies with good corporate governance are key to the trade’s healthy development," Ms Mu said.
Chairman of the EAA, Ms Vivien Chan said in her welcoming remarks that cultivating a culture of integrity required long-term efforts. This programme could promote cooperation and create interactive synergy among the EAA, ICAC and the estate agency trade, thereby enhancing the culture of integrity and promoting the professional development of the estate agency trade.
"We are certain that integrity is a key element in enhancing competitive advantage in a highly competitive business environment," Ms Chan said.
Under the integrity programme, a Best Practice Checklist highlighting corruption prevention guidelines and proper internal controls for estate agencies will be launched in the latter half of this year.
To help estate agents cultivate a culture of probity in their organisations, the ICAC, in collaboration with the EAA, has produced a training video featuring ethical challenges that estate agents may face in their daily operation.
In addition, ICAC corruption prevention talks, which have been a core subject of the continuing professional development courses for estate agents new licensees, will be injected with new contents to better cater for the trade’s need.
Following today's launching ceremony, about 200 representatives from trade associations and estate agencies attended a seminar to learn about the importance of upholding professional ethics as well as common corruption loopholes and preventive measures.
The ICAC and EAA co-hosted a similar programme in 2006. Since then the ICAC had conducted talks and briefings for over 8,000 estate agency practitioners to help them better understand the anti-bribery law and code of conduct.
In recent years, corruption complaints concerning real estate and property transactions remained stable. The ICAC received around 70 reports each year, taking up about three per cent of the total number of private sector reports.
Common irregularities and malpractices revealed in those complaints included allegedly soliciting and acceptance of unauthorised commissions, obtaining advantages for referring businesses, and using forged documents to deceive employers.
Joining the launching ceremony today were representatives of eight trade associations, including the Estate Agent Association, Estate Agents Management Association, HKNT Estate Agents & Merchants Association, Hong Kong Chamber of Professional Property Consultants, Hong Kong Real Estate Agencies General Association, Property Agencies Association, Property Agents Association, Society of Hong Kong Real Estate Agents Ltd.