Carson Yeung refused permission to travel to UK
Joyce Ng and Peter Simpson in Birmingham
Hong Kong tycoon Carson Yeung Ka-sing, the owner of English League Championship soccer club Birmingham City, was yesterday refused permission to travel to Britain to deal with club affairs. Yeung, facing charges of money laundering, asked a court to lift a bail condition imposed earlier that required him to surrender travel documents.
Jonathan Kwan, counsel for Yeung, told Magistrate David Dufton in Eastern Court that Yeung wanted to deal with financial matters and player transfers. 'Mr Yeung is extremely hands-on with his football club,' he said.
Kwan said on the intended four-day trip from tomorrow to Tuesday, Yeung wanted to meet new manager Chris Hughton, appointed after his arrest, to discuss the way forward.
Yeung also wanted to discuss with the club board and management the player transfer window, due to close by the end of the month. 'To show his face would make a lot of difference and would restore the confidence of fans,' he said.
Kwan said it would be difficult for Yeung to abscond as he had strong family ties in Hong Kong and was a well-known personality both in the city and in Britain. The lawyer offered an extra HK$1 million surety to add to Yeung's existing HK$7 million bail.
But the prosecution objected, saying there was a risk of Yeung, who was charged with a serious offence, absconding, and that he could appoint someone else to manage the club.
The magistrate dismissed the application, only allowing Yeung to continue bail under the existing conditions.
The case will be transferred to the District Court on August 30.
Birmingham City yesterday insisted it was business as usual following Yeung's bail extension and continued travel ban.
'Carson is the president. Day-to-day, hands-on stuff is our responsibility. This situation does not hinder the running of the club at all,' a Birmingham City spokesman said.
Acting chairman Peter Pannu, a Hong Kong barrister, was running the club, the spokesman said. But Yeung's 18-year-old son, Ryan, named after Manchester United star Ryan Giggs, was not involved in club business despite being named as a director by his father after Yeung was charged with money laundering.
Manager Hughton was sourcing players on loan, the spokesman said.
Pannu said he had had to make unpopular decisions at the financially troubled club after Yeung's arrest.
Andy Webb, who runs the fan club of the Small Heath Alliance - Birmingham's original name - said: 'It would have been good for Carson to come over and show his face and assure fans.
'There's a lot of concern and caution. We're just hoping the manager can muddle through until there's an end to all this uncertainty.'