Carson Yeung jailed for six years after tip-off triggered money-laundering probe
A tip-off to police started chain of inquiry that ends in six-year jail term for former hairdresser
An anonymous letter of complaint written in English triggered the investigation that ended with one-time high-flyer Carson Yeung Ka-sing behind bars yesterday.
Police disclosed this as the hairdresser-turned-businessman and owner of English soccer club Birmingham City started a six-year jail term for money-laundering.
Speaking outside District Court, Superintendent Gloria Yu said the letter was received in 2008 - some time after Yeung acquired a 29.9 per cent stake in the club but before he took full control of it in 2009.
"We did not start the investigation because Mr Yeung bought the football club," Yu said. "Whether or not the complainant made the report because Mr Yeung bought the shares, you have to ask the complainant."
A source close to the defence team said there would "almost certainly" be an appeal.
Yeung was convicted on Monday of five charges of laundering HK$721 million using five bank accounts at Wing Lung Bank and HSBC between 2001 and 2007. He has 28 days to file an appeal.
The court heard earlier that from 2001, various parties made deposits into the accounts, many for no apparent reason. Some were made by securities firms and a Macau casino, while others were made by unknown parties. Some 437 deposits, totalling more than HK$97 million, were made in cash.
"I find that without his considerable skill in share dealings and connections to the Macau casinos, the laundering could not have gone on for such a long time and on such a large scale," Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong said in sentencing Yeung. "Maintaining the integrity of the banking system is of paramount importance if Hong Kong is to remain an international finance centre."
The judge said the six-year prison term was meant to serve as a deterrent and signal to those who exploited the system that "the law will come down on them with full force".
The judge also remarked that deposits made by apparently innocent individuals into Yeung's accounts were "all somewhat connected" to Lin Cheuk-fung and Cheung Chi-tai, who were said by Yeung to be two bosses of casino junket company Neptune Group. The court heard that Cheung was reported by the media to be a local triad gang leader.
Yu said police would examine the judge's remarks carefully to decide whether there was a need to investigate the "possibilities" he had raised.
The prosecution will apply on April 3 to confiscate some of Yeung's assets, about HK$400 million of which have been frozen by a court injunction.
Yeung took over Birmingham City for HK$731 million in 2009 and was arrested in June 2011. He quit all his posts in the club's holding company last month.