Yeung in bid to have case heard in higher court

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 4:03am

Businessman Carson Yeung Ka-sing is trying to mount a judicial challenge against prosecutors' refusal to apply for his HK$721 million money laundering trial to be transferred to the High Court.

The application by the owner of the English football club Birmingham City was seen by the Department of Justice as a move to further delay the trial, with the prosecutors making clear that it would resist the application.

Yeung filed his application for leave to lodge a judicial review before his trial is due to start in the District Court next month. In November, he won a five-month delay of the trial, right on the day it was scheduled to begin.

His application resembles an unsuccessful bid by jailed businesswoman Lily Chiang Lai-lei to have her company fraud case heard in the High Court rather than the District Court. Chiang's judicial review application, eventually thrown out by the Court of Final Appeal, delayed the trial date by more than a year.

Criminal trials are heard by a jury made up of lay persons and a judge in the Court of First Instance. In the District Court, judges also act as jurors.

Yeung, 51, a hairdresser-turned-tycoon, was charged in June 2011 with five counts of dealing with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence, and for allegedly laundering a total sum of more than HK$721 million between 2001 and 2007. According to documents he filed with the High Court, his lawyers wrote to government lawyers on February 8, requesting them to apply to the District Court to have the trial moved to the High Court.

A week later, the Department of Justice wrote back refusing Yeung's request, stating the District Court was the proper venue for trial, documents showed.

Yeung wants the High Court to quash the prosecutor's decision and order it to apply for the case to go to the High Court. A justice department spokesman said: "Any application to put off the trial date will be resisted."