Carson Yeung

Former Birmingham City chairman Carson Yeung to serve rest of six-year jail sentence after losing final appeal in Hong Kong

Businessman was found guilty of money laundering in 2014

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 11:11am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 10:49pm

Carson Yeung Ka-sing, jailed in 2014 for laundering more than HK$700 million in Hong Kong, failed in his last-ditch bid to ­reclaim freedom on Monday, losing his appeal at the city’s top court.

Upon hearing the verdict the former chairman of Birmingham City Football Club, who had been granted bail to await his appeal, was escorted back to the room behind the dock, into Correctional Services Department custody.

He was handcuffed and ushered to a department vehicle via a makeshift inflatable tunnel set up outside the Central court building to protect his privacy.

Dismissing the appeal following a unanimous decision by a panel of five judges, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said the hairdresser-turned-businessman would serve the remainder of his original six-year sentence.

Arriving at court, Yeung appeared tense. He was ­accompanied to court by his wife, Joanna Wang Man-li. Asked if he was nervous, he gave a slight smile. Later, as he anticipated the news which would see him back behind bars, he closed his eyes.

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A lower court earlier found Yeung guilty of five counts of dealing with property believed to be proceeds of an indictable offence for laundering HK$721 million through five bank accounts at Wing Lung Bank and HSBC ­between 2001 and 2007. The District Court heard various parties, including securities firms and a Macau casino, made more than 400 deposits into the accounts.

His trial heard that Yeung dealt with those deposits, and that he knew or had “reasonable grounds to believe” that those funds, in whole or in part, were the “proceeds of an indictable offence”.

He lodged appeals, but was rejected by the Court of Appeal until a final rejection by the top court.

During the final appeal, his lawyer Clare Montgomery QC noted the approach of the city’s courts in deciding culpability in money laundering had departed from the United Kingdom’s framework, in that it no longer required proof that the laundered money was in fact from indictable offences. She said it would be a “real danger” if a conviction was based on “belief”.

‘Real danger’: Hong Kong courts departing from UK framework in money laundering cases, Carson Yeung’s lawyer argues as appeal begins

In a 75-page written judgment, the top judges – including Justices Ma, Roberto Ribeiro, Robert Tang Ching, Joseph Fok and Murray Gleeson – wrote that it was the city’s legislative intent to cover not just proceeds of indictable ­offences, but also those with ­reasonable grounds to be ­believed shady.

They also wrote that there were significant differences ­between the Hong Kong and UK legislative schemes, and that the UK standard had not been incorporated into Hong Kong’s provisions of the

Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, under which Yeung was found guilty.

The top justices also dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the charges had been duplicated.

According to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Birmingham International Holdings, which Yeung used to hold the British football club via a subsidiary as an ex-chairman , received a substantial investment on June 6 from a company called Trillion Trophy Asia, owned by Paul Suen Cho-hung. Yeung’s share has since dropped to around 7 per cent, from the original 27.89 per cent.