THE owner of a Chinese takeaway who tried to pass a €500 bribe to a Garda immigration officer has been given the benefit of the Probation Act after making a “significant” contribution to charity.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly said the contribution of €2,000 to the St Vincent de Paul made by Zhou Zuxin would “assist the needy in Limerick”.
Zhou, 35, of Dromroe, Rhebogue, had pleaded guilty before Limerick District Court on an earlier date to having corruptly offered €500 in cash to Garda Geraldine Dee as a gift or reward, an offence contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
The offer of a bribe had been made on October 2, 2012 after gardai had inspected Zhou’s business, the Chinese Palace at Roxboro Shopping Centre, and demanded documents for two employees.
“How much to make this go away? Under the table - cash money, ” Zhou had asked Garda Dee, an offer his solicitor Sarah Ryan said had been made with the welfare of his employees in mind.
When the offer was rejected by Garda Dee, Zhou had tried to hand the officer a napkin with €500 in cash wrapped inside.
“This might be an issue of cultural differences, ” Ms Ryan had said, explaining her client had come to Ireland from China in 2001 and was naturalised last year.
US State Department reports confirmed that “police corruption is an issue in China” and in Zhou’s homeland, it is “possible to encourage a member of the police force not quite to make it go away as he said but to reduce the seriousness of the charge, ” Ms Ryan said.
“Whatever cultural standards apply in his place of origin, they are not approved of in Ireland, ” Judge O’Kelly had said.
In being naturalised in Ireland, Zhou would have had “to swear to uphold the Irish laws”, he added.
Sentencing Zhou, who has no previous convictions, Judge O’Kelly said he was prepared to apply the Probation Act and ordered that the €500 cash be returned to the businessman.