The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially announced on Thursday that acting Head of Operations Rebecca Li Bo-lan will be replaced by Ricky Yau Shu-chun starting July 18, following speculation by local media over recent days.

Li was appointed the acting Head of Operations almost a year ago after Ryan Wong Sai-chiu, the former Head of Operations, left the post. She is known for solving several significant cases throughout her career. ICAC said that Li will “proceed on final leave” on July 18 and thanked her for her “remarkable contribution to the fight against corruption.”

Rebecca Li Bo-lan.
Rebecca Li Bo-lan. Photo: ICAC.

Yau, 51, joined the anti-corruption watchdog in 1994 and was promoted to Director of Investigation (Private Sector) in 2014. His current post will be taken up by Choi Shu-keung – an Assistant Director of Operations – following the appointment.

Earlier, sources cited by Ming Pao said that, while he was the assistant director at the Community Relations Department, Yau was involved in approving expenses for former commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming. Tong was previously accused of claiming lavish expenses on food and gifts. Apple Daily also reported that “the central government was dissatisfied that the ICAC did not enthusiastically investigate and charge [suspects] in many cases,” and that Li had only lukewarm relationships with Chinese officials.

tse wai chun lam cheuk ting
Tse Wai-chun (left) and Lam Cheuk-ting (right). Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Many have expressed concern following the announcement of Li’s departure.

Lam Cheuk-ting, a former ICAC investigator, said on RTHK on Friday morning, “It’s regretful that Ms. Li, who is such an experienced and reputable investigator, has to leave the ICAC in a dejected manner. So far, I’ve only seen one report in Ming Pao in which ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu directly responded [to the matter]. Until now, he has not publicly given any explanation as to what happened.”

“From what I know, internally at the ICAC no official explanation has been given [for the changes in posts] either,” Lam said. “As a result there is a lot of speculation, which will affect the credibility of the ICAC.”

Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun said that they were in the dark as to what the reasons for the departure were – whether they were personal reasons or if there was political pressure. He also urged the watchdog to give an account of the matter, RTHK reported.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.