‘From a Ferrari to a Toyota’: the fall of former Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung after his money-laundering arrest
- Yeung’s former right-hand man Peter Pannu, testifying against the pair’s former accountant, said Yeung was strapped for cash after his assets were frozen
- Accountant Jerry Ko is accused of stealing HK$37.45 million from the football club’s holding company, allegedly on Yeung’s behalf
Former Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeung Ka-sing’s lifestyle was tuned down from “a Ferrari to a Toyota” following his arrest over a money laundering case for which he is now jailed, a Hong Kong court heard on Friday.
The High Court was offered a glimpse into Yeung’s life as his right-hand man Peter Pannu testified against the former accountant of the club’s holding company, who is now on trial for stealing HK$37.45 million (US$4.8 million) from the company between September 26, 2013 and December 16, 2014.
The accountant Jerry Ko Ka-wai, 35, has pleaded not guilty to one count of theft.
In defence, his counsel Oliver Davies drew the jury’s attention to his former boss’ private life and suggested that Yeung continued to spend a lot of money even after his assets were frozen by a court injunction following his arrest in June 2011.
“I don’t know how is this relevant to the case,” Pannu replied.
Nevertheless, Pannu revealed that he was introduced to Yeung in 1988 and began socialising with him in September 2009, like visiting Yeung when he was “dating girls in France”.
“Very, very lavish,” Pannu said after calling Yeung “a generous person”.
“After [the arrest] we had a drink in Central, go to a nightclub, I have to pay,” he continued. “Tuned down a lot, from a Ferrari to a Toyota.”
But Davies pressed on: “You knew perfectly well that money was being taken out via Jerry and passed on to Carson Yeung.”
“Absolutely no,” Pannu replied. “If I had known this I would have had Jerry arrested right away.”
Pannu said he knew nothing about the allegations in the present case while he was CEO at Birmingham International Holdings from late 2012 to January 2015.
“How much did the cheques total?” he asked prosecutor John Marray after being shown a few of them in court.
“About HK$37 million,” Marray replied.
Pannu breathed a loud sigh and shook his head. “He’s saying that’s his bonus?” he asked.
“He’s saying that he’s entitled,” the prosecutor continued. “Would it be realistic for a man of his position, receiving HK$60,000 a month, be receiving a bonus in this region?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Pannu replied. “Then I should get a HK$400 million bonus.”
The jury trial continues before deputy High Court judge Mr Justice Anthony Kwok Kai-on on Monday.