Birmingham City denies payouts report

Newspaper alleges that chairman Peter Pannu received a large payment from the club

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 4:44am

Birmingham City FC has denied claims that its acting chairman, Peter Pannu, and other Hong Kong-based individuals have been paid large amounts of money by the club.

Based on internal information seen by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, major concerns arose about Pannu, who was appointed acting chairman after the club's owner - Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung Ka-sing - was arrested on money-laundering charges.

It is alleged that Pannu and other Hong Kong-based individuals were paid large amounts of cash by the club.

According to internal documents in June 2010, Pannu - a former Hong Kong policeman now working as a barrister - claimed in an e-mail to Birmingham City's finance staff that Yeung had given him complete, sole authority over the club and its business dealings.

It was alleged that Pannu asked the club's finance office to pay him £300,000 (HK$3.5 million), under an agreement he had with Yeung that he is to be paid 10 per cent of whatever he could bring into the club "by way of earnings and profits".

This was denied by Birmingham City's head of media and communications, Andy Walker.

Walker has confirmed that the club did not have any arrangement with Pannu "whereby he receives 10 per cent or any other percentage/or commission of any business that he brings to them".

However, his statement did confirm that Pannu was paid a commission on a legal settlement made with the former owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, shortly after Yeung took over the club in 2009.

"Mr Pannu no longer has any such commission arrangement with the club and is now paid only his salary," Walker said.

"He remains fully committed and dedicated to the club."

But worries still exist over the club's future.

On Tuesday a Hong Kong judge rejected Yeung's legal challenge over the venue of his upcoming money-laundering trial as "frivolous" and an abuse of process.

Yeung is due to stand trial in the District Court on April 29 for alleged money laundering of more than HK$720 million.

He has sought to have the case moved to the High Court for a jury trial.

After the Department of Justice responded in a letter that the District Court remained the proper venue, he sought leave from the Court of First Instance to apply for a judicial review.

Daniel Fung SC, for Yeung, said the department's letter was "perfunctory" and "insufficient".

Yeung has said the authorities "double-counted" and that the sum in question should be HK$400 million.

But Fung said that no matter which total was correct, the sums involved were vast.

Calling Yeung's application frivolous, Deputy Judge Alan Wright said: "I am satisfied that the purpose of these proceedings is to attempt to disrupt the forthcoming trial and is an abuse of the process of this court."

A half-hour pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for April 10 in the District Court.