“HOW much to make this go away? Under the table - cash money,” was what a Chinese takeaway owner told an immigration officer after questions were asked of his employees’ documentation, Limerick District Court has heard.
Zhou Zuxin, 35, of Dromroe, Rhebogue pleaded guilty to having corruptly offered €500 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.
Insp Dermot O’Connor told the court that Zhou had gone to the immigration office at Henry Street and asked whether he was on camera before offering a bribe to Garda Dee.
When this was rejected, “he shortly afterwards gave the immigration officer a white serviette with €500 inside”.
“He said ‘this is for you’ and tried to put it in the officer’s hand,” Insp O’Connor told Judge Eugene O’Kelly.
When he was arrested for bribery, Zhou had said his wish had been not to put his employees in a bad position.
“This might be an issue of cultural differences,” solicitor Sara Ryan 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.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly said that if Zhou had been in Ireland over a decade it could surely not have escaped his attention “the great amount of commentary in the media about the evils in Irish society of bribery and corruption”.
“Whatever cultural standards apply in his place of origin, they are not approved of in Ireland,” Judge O’Kelly said.
In being naturalised in Ireland, Zhou would have had “to swear to uphold the Irish laws”, he added.
Described by Ms Ryan as hardworking father-of-two with no previous conviction, Zhou was ordered to make a €2,000 donation to St Vincent de Paul.