The money I took was from my investments: Carson Yeung
Soccer boss insists cheque deposits of millions of dollars from Macau casino junket operators came from money he had put into the firms
Birmingham City Football Club boss Carson Yeung Ka-sing said he accepted cheques involving millions of dollars from staff members of Macau casino junket operators because the money came from his investment capital in those firms, a court heard yesterday.
The hairdresser-turned-businessman said all the money collected in this way was spent on his father and himself. He did not return "a single dime" to the junket operators, Neptune Club and Neptune Group, he said.
Yeung, 53, was responding to prosecution queries on several cheque deposits made into bank accounts involved in his money-laundering trial.
The money was paid by Neptune shareholders and employees directly into his accounts, the District Court heard.
"All [the depositors] have addresses in Hong Kong, ID numbers and bank records. That's why my mind was at ease when I accepted the cheques," Yeung said.
"Also, at that time, my feeling … was that the money was the capital of my investment. If I wanted to conceal it, I could have asked them to pay me in cash."
It was not revealed in court how much the deposits amounted to, or whether the total fell within his investment capital.
Yeung also told the court that his Neptune investments were expected to yield returns on capital and interest.
Yeung is standing trial for five counts of knowingly dealing in ill-gotten gains totalling HK$721 million.
The offences allegedly took place from January 2001 to December 2007, and involved five bank accounts with Wing Lung Bank and HSBC. He denies the charges.
Apart from the Neptune bank deposits, the businessman was also asked under cross-examination about other "suspicious" deposits into bank accounts held by his father and himself.
Yeung said 11 deposits made by impresario Abba Chan Tat-chee and Chan's two companies, Abba Entertainment and Abba Movie, were the returns on his investment in a 2005 Hong Kong film, SPL.
A deposit of HK$3.91 million from a company wholly owned by former lawmaker Chim Pui-chung was "some kind of commercial offsetting", the court heard.
Yeung could not explain the nature of the offsetting, nor did he keep any documents on it.
In June, Chim told the court about an off-market deal in which his second son sold 50 million shares in Kanstar Environmental Paper Products to Yeung at a quarter of the market price.
Chim said at the time that "it was a commercial decision" to close the deal with Yeung at 10 cents a share, worth 43 cents on the market.
On the 47th day of his trial, Yeung said he changed his mind and decided to give evidence in his own defence after finding that expert reports prepared by his accountants contained errors.
"All of them contained errors. That's why I decided to come to court," he said. "After I obtained legal advice from Mr [Kevin] Egan, I decided to testify."
Barrister Egan joined Yeung's legal team when he started his testimony. The hearing will resume on Monday.