Departing Independent Police Complaints Council secretary-general Ricky Chu Man-kin is being widely tipped to return to the Independent Commission Against Corruption where he previously spent three decades.
The 62-year-old was originally expected to leave the police watchdog next January but has ended his term prematurely and could be joining the anti-graft body as early as next week.
It was not immediately clear if his return is connected to the surprise resignations of two senior staff from the ICAC operations department, one of whom was in charge of the investigations into the UGL scandal that has engulfed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Chu is expected to be working at the directorate level in the operations department, according to an unconfirmed report.
Quoting anonymous sources, the report said the IPCC held a special meeting on Monday morning to approved Chu's request for an earlier termination of contract.
Chu did not respond to phone calls from The Standard and both the IPCC and ICAC refused to confirm nor deny the report, saying no comment at this stage.
Former ICAC investigator Lam Cheuk-ting, who is also the chief executive of the Democratic Party, said Chu's return to the anti-graft body could have a positive effect on the ICAC's reputation and staff morale, though it would be hard for one person to accomplish this alone.
"He is well-respected because of his experience. And he is also a honest person," he said.
Prior to joining the IPCC, Chu spent 32 years with the ICAC, eventually serving as an assistant director of the operations department and director of the corruption prevention department.
Chu shed tears at a press conference in March when reporters asked if his departure was politically motivated, as the police watchdog had asked headhunters to find potential candidates to replace him, a recruitment procedure that was a first for the council.
But he dismissed the speculation and described his relationships with his colleagues as "healthy" and "at arm's length."
IPCC chairman Larry Kwok Lam- kwong had said he asked Chu to stay.
Earlier this month, principal investigator Dale Ko resigned from the ICAC - less than a week after the resignation of acting operations head Rebecca Li Bo-lan.
ICAC staff had raised questions with Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu who demoted Li.
The UGL case involves claims that Leung received HK$50 million in connection with a bid by Australian engineering firm UGL for insolvent property firm DTZ, where Leung was a director. He did not declare the payment to the Executive Council.