Carson Yeung

Carson Yeung will take the stand at his money laundering trial after U-turn

Judge agrees to Birmingham City soccer club owner's U-turn on giving evidence in his own defence at money laundering trial

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 5:00am

Birmingham City soccer club owner Carson Yeung Ka-sing will take the stand at his money laundering trial after a District Court judge yesterday agreed to grant Yeung's "unusual" request to reopen his closed defence case.

The businessman made the application through his senior barrister, Graham Harris. The prosecution and defence camps had been due to make their closing submissions on October 15.

Allowing Yeung to take the stand, judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong said: "[Yeung] will give first-hand evidence … The evidence, whether it is for or against the defendant, will be substantial to the case."

He said that while all of the excuses cited by Yeung amounted basically to the defendant "having changed his mind", he would grant the application because it was in the interest of justice and fairness.

"There will be some effects on the conduct of the trial," he said. "The proceedings should be orderly and relatively expeditious."

After calling all defence witnesses in July, Yeung had chosen not to take the stand.

After yesterday's ruling, Yeung will now testify on October 15 and his evidence is expected to last for five days. Yau said Yeung could not call any new witnesses.

Yeung, a 52-year-old barber-turned-businessman, is accused of knowingly dealing in ill-gotten gains amounting to HK$721 million between January 2001 and December 2007.

He denies all five charges relating to five bank accounts.

In his application to the judge, defence lawyers said Yeung's previous decision not to testify was made at a time when he had been in hospital and was suffering from illness and discomfort.

They also said Yeung had subsequently received further independent legal advice from a firm of solicitors and a barrister, Kevin Egan, which had changed his mind.

Rebutting Yeung's application, prosecutor John Reading SC argued Yeung's earlier decision not to testify was "not a spur of the moment decision".

"The factual circumstances here clearly demonstrate a reversal of strategy, which … was not sufficient to warrant a reopening," Reading said.

The prosecutor also pointed out it had been more than two months since Yeung formally closed his case.

"No valid reason has been given as to why such an application could not have been made earlier," he said.

In the prosecution's opening statement, Reading told the court that the money deposited in Yeung's five bank accounts did not correspond with Yeung and his father's combined income of HK$2,159,392 over the period of January 2001 to December 2007.