Birmingham City Owner Asks Court to Release Some of His Assets

Carson Yeung, owner of English soccer club Birmingham City, appealed to a Hong Kong court to lift a freeze on more than HK$700 million ($90 million) in assets as he fights money laundering allegations in the Chinese city.

Philip Dykes, Yeung’s lawyer, argued before the Court of Appeal today that a lower court judge who granted the order “should have evaluated the likelihood of conviction” and should have asked prosecutors to ascertain the profits gained from the alleged criminal activity.

Adrian Bell, a lawyer for the Department of Justice, said a prosecution expert witness, Roderick Sutton, came to “definite conclusions” after examining transactions in Yeung’s bank accounts and finding “hallmarks” of money laundering.

Birmingham International Holdings Ltd., the West Midlands-based team’s parent company, has been suspended in Hong Kong since June 30 when its chairman Yeung was charged with five counts of money laundering with a total value of HK$721.3 million. Yeung has posted HK$8 million in bail and was refused permission to leave Hong Kong in September.

A judge ordered more than HK$700 million in assets to be frozen in December, Dykes said after today’s hearing. The December hearing was closed to the public.

“The amount frozen at the moment is unlikely to be out of whack if everything goes well for the prosecution,” Court of Appeal judge Robert Tang said. Tang and fellow appellate judge Joseph Fok reserved their judgment and will rule at a later date.

The case is Secretary for Justice and Yeung Ka-sing Carson, Yeung Chung, Li Wing-sze Terrenz, Success Orient Investment Limited, CACV8/2012 in the High Court of Hong Kong.

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