Birmingham owner denies money-laundering charges
Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung pleaded not guilty to money-laundering charges in a Hong Kong court, while trying anew to halt the trial at the start of the much-delayed proceedings.
The former hairdresser-turned-football tycoon was arrested and charged in June 2011 with five counts of "dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence".
Prosecutors say their investigations show that around HK$720 million ($93 million) passed through accounts connected to the 52-year-old businessman, who has been on bail since he was charged.
The long-awaited trial technically started at a district court on Monday after Yeung, who was clad in a dark suit and appeared calm, pleaded not guilty to all five charges read out before him.
But his defence team made a fresh bid to halt the trial with a permanent stay application. Judge Douglas Yau was shortly to hear arguments on the application from both defence and prosecution.
The exact nature of the allegations against the businessman remain unknown so far.
Yeung has made several unsuccessful attempts to postpone or strike out the charges. A court last month rejected his application to move the trial to a high court, after the prosecution slammed the bid as a delaying tactic.
Yeung, who was little known prior to his emergence in English football, took control of the club in October 2009 in an £81 million ($130 million) takeover from David Sullivan and David Gold, now the co-owners of West Ham.
The club's fortunes have gone downhill. They were relegated from the Premiership three months after winning the League Cup amid financial troubles, and are set for another season in the second-tier Championship.
Yeung has assured Birmingham City he will continue to support the club financially despite his legal troubles.
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