The son of a Chinese official was sentenced to 12 months for bribery and six months on firearms charges Tuesday for attempting to bribe his British professor with £5,000 (around $7,630) to pass him for his master's degree, according to the Daily Mail.
Unlike in China, where as a proverb suggests, “money can make a ghost push the mill for you," bribery in the UK apparently will not only not solve your trouble, but land you in jail, as Li Yang found out earlier this week at his sentencing.
Li was meeting with his University of Bath professors Andrew Graves and Dr. Stephen Shepherd to discuss his options after receiving a 37 percent mark for his dissertation. He needed a 40 percent to pass and receive his master's degree. In order to graduate, he would need to spend an extra year at the university, which affected Li’s plan to upgrade his student visa.
Faced with the dilemma, Li did what would have been normal practice in China. He told the professors, “I am a businessman,” and placed £5,000 in cash on the table.
Li said, “You can keep the money if you give me a pass mark and I won’t bother you again.”
It was likely inexplicable to Li that this should fail, but it did. And on top of that, when he got up to leave, he picked up his coat and a 0.177 air pistol fell from his pocket, which added six months to his sentence for a firearms charge.
Blake James, Li's attorney, argued that the bribe was an impulse decision, but the presiding judge didn’t buy the argument. When sentencing Li, Judge Michael Longman said, “Any form of corruption or incitement to a person in any manner amounts to a serious offense which must be taken seriously by the court. Your bid to achieve a pass mark by offering what was a bribe to your professor was ill-conceived to the point of being a spectacular mistake and one which was doomed to fail from the start. You withdrew the large sum of money that morning, and I do not accept that offering the money was on impulse or done in the heat of the moment. It was planned and deliberate and demonstrated a failure to comprehend the high standards adhered to by the public and private offices in the UK.”
The judge did accept that Li did not intend to threaten the professors with his air pistol, but nonetheless found it offensive that he should be carrying the firearm around and risked others seeing it.
Li, who has already spent five months in custody, will return to China once he is released from his sentence.