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Birmingham City FC Boss Jailed For Six Years For Money Laundering

posted 7 Mar 2014, 03:10 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 Mar 2014, 03:10 ]

Hong Kong court sentences Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeungto six years of prison for money laundering.

HONG KONG, CHINA (MARCH 7, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Birmingham City Football Club boss Carson Yeung was sentenced to six years in jail on Friday (March 7) for laundering $93 million following a high-profile trial that cast a spotlight on how the hairdresser-turned-businessman made his fortune.

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Yeung, 54, who had denied the charges of laundering the money between January 2001 and December 2007, had faced up to seven years in jail. He was found guilty by a Hong Kong court on Monday (March 3) of five counts of money-laundering. He had denied the charges.

In glasses and a face mask, Yeung bowed his head as he left the court building in a prison van after the sentence.

About 30 photographers and cameramen swarmed around the van, some chasing it down the street to get a snap of the football club boss.

Yeung was arrested in 2011 and his trial lasted more than 50 days.

A police spokeswoman said the entire process had been arduous, but they were very happy about the outcome.

"Both the investigation and trial have been an arduous experience. Our team has worked hard on the case and we have the co-operation of the judiciary. We are very happy about the result and the sentence. We also feel encouraged, because fighting money laundering is a very difficult task," said Gloria Yu, superintendent of the Hong Kong Police's Financial Investigations Division.

In the verdict, Judge Douglas Yau said Yeung had lied about how he made his money and exaggerated the amount of cash generated by his hair salon business and through gambling.

A former hair stylist to Hong Kong's rich and famous, Yeung had told the court he amassed his wealth through hairdressing, share trading, property purchases, gambling in the world's casino hub of Macau and other investments.

Prosecutors had pointed to what they said were suspicious cheque payments made to Yeung by employees of Macau companies, including a junket operator, which earns commissions from casinos to attract cash-rich gamblers.

However, Yu on Friday said that it would be impossible for the police to uncover the source of Yeung's fortunes.

"It is impossible for us to know where his money comes from, okay? But when he dealt with such an enormous amount of money, any reasonable person would have a reasonable doubt to suspect the money comes from illegal means," Yu said.

As a free financial centre, Hong Kong has become a popular place for Chinese to set up companies and conduct business, in some cases to obscure their assets through money-laundering.

A new anti-money laundering (AML) ordinance came into effect in April 2012, bringing stricter requirements for bank monitoring of customers and the reporting of suspicious transactions to authorities.