Radio Sandwell Local News

Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeung guilty

2014-03-03 13:11:21

Carson Yeung

Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeung has been found guilty of five counts of money laundering by a court in Hong Kong.

The 54-year-old had denied laundering HK$720 million (£55.4m) through his bank accounts between 2001 and 2007.

Judge Douglas Yau said Yeung was "self-contradictory" in his testimony and he was "making it up as he went along".

He will be sentenced on Friday and could face 14 years in jail.

    • October 2009 - Following an initial failed attempt
      in 2007, Carson Yeung completes his £81.5m takeover


    • May 2010 - Alex McLeish leads Birmingham to ninth
      in the Premier League


    • Feb 2011 - Birmingham beat Arsenal 2-1 to win the
      League Cup


    • May 2011 - Blues relegated. McLeish leaves for Aston


    • June 2011 - Yeung first appears in court on money
      laundering charges


    • May 2012 - Blues miss out in Championship play-offs
      on same day that acting chairman Peter Pannu announces
      they are looking to attract new investment


    • October 2012 - Pannu reveals two prospective buyers,
      including a consortium led by Midlands-based former QPR
      chairman Gianni Paladin


    • May 2013 - After an initial postponement, Yeung's trial
      opens in Hong Kong


    • Feb 2014 - Yeung resigns from all roles on the boards
      related to the club days before verdict in his trial is due


  • March 2014 - Yeung found guilty of five money
    laundering charges

Yeung was arrested and charged in June 2011, two years after he acquired the club.

Throughout the trial, Yeung and the prosecution painted differing pictures of how his wealth had been amassed.

Yeung maintained he accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars through stock trading, business ventures in mainland China, a hair salon and a keen interest in gambling.

'Famous hairstylist'

But prosecutors said he was unable to show where almost HK$100 million (£7.7m) in his bank accounts had come from.

Judge Yau said Yeung had lied about how he made his money and exaggerated the amount of profits generated by his hair salon business.

"I find the defendant not a witness of truth. I find that he is someone who is prepared to, and did try to, lie whenever he saw the need to do so," he told the court room.

He added there were reasonable grounds to believe that Yeung's various business deals had used money which represented "proceeds of an indictable offence".

Yeung bought Birmingham City in October 2009 for £81.5m from David Sullivan and David Gold, now the co-owners of West Ham.

He is the majority shareholder but resigned in February as president of Birmingham City FC, director of Birmingham City plc and director and chairman of the club's parent company, Birmingham International Holdings Ltd (BIHL).

The side are currently 17th in the Championship after losing 1-0 to Ipswich on Saturday.

Business as usual is the message coming out of
St Andrews.


Recently, Carson Yeung resigned from all of his positions
connected to Birmingham City.


He's the largest single shareholder with 26.4% of
Birmingham International Holdings who own 96.6% of
the football club.


But two directors have recently been appointed to the
holdings' board, both associates of Yeung.


I understand the holding company is looking to sell 12%
of its shares to a Chinese holding company looking to
raise extra capital rather than sell the club, which
understandably is open to fresh investment.


But as for Birmingham City's value, it can't be much
more than £30m now as it struggles in the second tier.


Carson Yeung bought the club in 2009 for £81.5m
when in they were in the Premier League.

In a statement, the club's acting chairman Peter Pannu said: "I'd like to reassure all supporters and staff that today's verdict will have no impact on the day-to-day operations at the football club.

"Birmingham International Holdings Limited, the holding company, shall continue to support the football club under the leadership of the group's new chairman, Mr Cheung Shing, and will work to raise further investment to support Birmingham City FC. going forward."

Yeung worked in the UK as a teenager before becoming a "famous" hairstylist in Hong Kong. He made his fortune investing in Macau in the 1990s and is a well-known property developer in Hong Kong.

Analysts say the authorities there are trying to clamp down on money laundering, which is seen as a growing problem in the financial centre.


Kevin Ball, owner of the Birmingham FC fan website Joys and Sorrows, said he felt it was now time for new owners to take control of the club.

"As he has already stepped down, the guilty pleas don't make that much difference," he said.

St Andrews

"From a personal position, I don't think he had a prudent approach to run the club, but in the first part of his tenure he gave me some of my best days as a Blues fan.

"I believe he wanted the best for the club, but I think he was naive in running the club and should have stepped away before now.

"It's unfortunate, I feel sad about it but where we are now, the existing administration is tarnished. I hope we get sold and get a new administration in."

A spokesman for fans' organisation the Blues Trust, said: "We hope that today's verdict marks the beginning of a new era, where we are able to put this troubling period behind us as soon as possible.

"However, we do appreciate that there will be a period of uncertainty whilst the ultimate ownership of the club is decided and long-term stability is restored."


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