Birmingham City Owner to Testify in Money Laundering Case

Carson Yeung, the owner of English soccer team Birmingham City on trial for money laundering, will testify next month in a reversal of an earlier decision not to take the stand.

District Court Judge Douglas Yau today allowed the Hong Kong businessman’s application to reopen his defense after it had earlier rested. The trial will resume Oct. 15.

Yeung, 53, pleaded not guilty to five charges of laundering HK$721.3 million ($93 million) in deposits from parties including a Macau casino operator and securities firms over a seven-year period to 2007. The son of a vegetable stand salesman ran a successful hair salon and parlayed his earnings into savvy investments in real estate and stocks, Yeung’s lawyers said.

Yeung was chairman of Grandtop International Holdings Ltd., which in 2007 bought a 29.9 percent stake in the West Midlands, U.K.-based soccer club for 15 million pounds ($23 million). Yeung bought the rest of the club in 2009, paying 81.5 million pounds to David and Ralph Gold and David Sullivan and Grandtop changed its name to Birmingham International Holdings Ltd.

Police allege that the purchase was partly funded by money connected to his money laundering charges. His defense says he earned that money from trading stocks.

Yeung was arrested in June 2011 and shares of Birmingham International have been suspended since. The soccer club had a 42 percent drop in sales for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2012, after the team’s relegation from the top-flight Premier League 2011, according to its interim report.

Birmingham International issued a profit warning Sept. 9 it attributed to the sales of players registrations. The company said last month it was still in preliminary negotiations over the sale of its stake in the soccer club.

The case is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Yeung Ka-sing Carson, DCCC860/2011 in the Hong Kong District Court.

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