Quarantine officer took bribes for orchids

Quarantine officer Erol Ibrahim took bribes to let imported orchids slip through customs.
Quarantine officer Erol Ibrahim took bribes to let imported orchids slip through customs.

A Victorian quarantine officer took bribes to let imported orchids slip through customs with minimal checks for pests.

Erol Ibrahim, 37, admitted he took bribes and passed on Commonwealth information to a Melbourne orchid seller between 2011 and 2017.

"This was a gross breach of trust by you," County Court Judge Michael McInerney said in his sentencing on Wednesday.

"The prime motive for you was financial benefit for yourself."

Ibrahim used his position to conduct "cursory" searches on flowers imported to Allan Neo, also known as the The Orchid Man.

He also accessed information from his employer that allowed the Neos to gain a commercial advantage against their competitors.

"The work you were doing on behalf of the Neos was allowing them to be able to control the market for imported flowers ... they were able to do that because of the information you were giving them," Judge McInerney said.

In return, Ibrahim was given gifts, flights and accommodation in Japan and up to $10,000 in cash over a five-year period.

"The steps you took essentially put in breach the integrity of our border protection system," the judge said.

Ibrahim was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years in jail, but released immediately on Wednesday on terms he be of good behaviour.

He pleaded guilty to one count each of being a Commonwealth officer to receive a bribe and inappropriate disclosure of information.

Australian Associated Press