In this interview, Bertrand de Speville, as former head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, and author of Overcoming Corruption: The Essentials, details the measures that should be taken by successful anti-corruption agencies. He explains how the three-pronged strategy of the ICAC is very effective. The three departments of the ICAC—investigation, prevention, and education--- investigate allegations of corruption, attempt to prevent corruption from occurring in private and public sectors, and try to educate the general public about how to eliminate corruption, respectively. De Speville stresses how important it is for these departments to be closely coordinated. Also, he states how he was able to deduce the common mistakes that countries make in regard to their attempt to fight corruption. One of these common pitfalls is a flawed investigating policy, where countries just go for the “big fish.” Thus, the public may believe that the anti-corruption agency is not impartial, but has a political ulterior motive. Therefore, de Speville explains how resources must be allocated in a way that mostly every allegation of corruption should be investigated. This relates to de Speville’s stressing the importance of public trust, in which he elaborates how measures such as the Citizen Oversight Committee within each department and the institution of public relations, are taken. He states that the real measure of success of an anti-corruption agency is whether it can bring about a change of heart and mind in every member of a community, and draws upon the examples of Hong Kong, Singapore, Latvia, and Lithuania to show that this success is possible.
Born in Southern Rhodesia and educated in England, Betrand de Speville served as Solicitor General of Hong Kong before beginning his career in anti-corruption. In 1992, upon becoming the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, de Speville commenced his concentration in fighting corruption. Through this position, in which he served from 1992-1996, de Speville witnessed the aspects of anti-corruption agencies that were effective, along with practices that were common mistakes. While leading ICAC, he states that he has few regrets, and that in order for corruption to be fought effectively in the future, although agencies should be tailored to their surroundings, they should have a three-pronged strategy of attack, and warrant public support, while staying away from the common mistakes made while fighting corruption, such as selective investigation. Since then, he has worked with dozens of countries and international organizations on setting up specialized anti-corruption agencies and other aspects of anti-corruption policy. From 1997-2003, he was the advisor to the Council of Europe’s Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption. He detailed the necessities of a successful agency and the pitfalls faced within his book, Overcoming Corruption: The Essentials, which was published in 2010. De Speville is currently the principal of de Speville and Associates, an international anti-corruption consultancy based in England.