Grandtop International Holdings has stood by the appointment of former Hong Kong police officer Peter Pannu to a leading management position in its HK$731 million takeover of English Premier League soccer club Birmingham City. Pannu was cleared of corruption, assault and criminal intimidation charges during his career. A company spokesman said the former senior anti-triad officer and barrister had the legal knowledge and appropriate management experience to serve the club. Pannu has said he will be vice-chairman of finance and executive matters, while chief operating officer Sammy Yu Wai-ying will be responsible for the soccer-playing side of the business. In January 1993, Pannu was charged along with a colleague with accepting HK$20,000 from Sun Yee On triad boss Andely Chan Yiu-hing. Pannu was alleged to have accepted the bribe to protect the gangster, known as the 'Tiger of Wan Chai', from a police operation against him. Pannu's trial was halted more than three years later because of a missing witness and because Chan had by then been murdered. Pannu was also cleared of assault and criminal intimidation charges. The court said missing witnesses could have helped Pannu's case and without them he could not receive a fair trial. Former Hong Kong police detective David Fernyhough, who now heads the Hong Kong office of corporate-risk investigation firm Hill and Associates, said investigations into Pannu stemmed from a far wider investigation into the Sun Yee On's lucrative stranglehold on the entertainment industry in Tsim Sha Tsui East in the early 1990s. During the years he was suspended from the force on full pay, Pannu completed a law degree. A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Bar Association said Pannu was admitted as a barrister of the High Court of Hong Kong in 1997. He resigned from the police force in 2000 and finished practising as a barrister in the middle of last month. The Grandtop spokesman said the company had no comment on previous connections between Grandtop and Carson Yeung Ka-shing, the former hairstylist turned businessman who has been the public face of the takeover. Referring to Pannu, he said: 'We have taken advantage of his knowledge and experience ... at this stage, Peter has no formal status within the club or exact position.' Grandtop is expected to lay out its formal plans for Birmingham City on Thursday.