Birmingham owner found guilty

  • Last Updated: March 3 2014, 17:05 GMT

Carson Yeung's conviction on money-laundering charges will have "no impact on the day-to-day operations" at Birmingham, according to acting chairman Peter Pannu.

Birmingham owner found guilty

Yeung, the club's majority shareholder, was found guilty on five counts of money laundering by a court in Hong Kong on Monday.

He was arrested and charged in 2011 having bought Blues two years earlier, and had denied laundering 720million Hong Kong dollars (£55.4million) through his accounts between 2001 and 2007.

He will now be sentenced on Friday and could face a lengthy prison term.

Yeung last month resigned from his position on the boards of the football club, Birmingham City plc and Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), the club's parent company.

In an official statement on the club's website, Pannu said: "I regret to inform all supporters and staff of our beloved club that Birmingham City FC's former president and benefactor, Carson Yeung, was today convicted of all charges he faced following a protracted period of legal proceedings.

"I'd like to reassure all supporters and staff that today's verdict will have no impact on the day-to-day operations at the football club.

"Birmingham International Holdings Limited, the holding company, shall continue to support the football club under the leadership of the group's new chairman, Mr Cheung Shing, and will work to raise further investment to support Birmingham City FC going forward."

The Football League said it was aware of Monday's developments and plans to release a statement in due course.

Yeung, 54, completed a takeover of Birmingham in October 2009.

Since he took charge, Birmingham have won the League Cup but have been relegated from the Barclays Premier League and are currently 17th in the Sky Bet Championship table.

Yeung, who had his assets frozen, cut ties with the midlands club at the start of February to focus more time on his ongoing court case and to crucially satisfy one of the requirements for the resumption of trading of BIHL's suspended shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

City's parent company subsequently agreed to sell 12 per cent of its stake in the club to a Beijing-based advertising business operating in China, a deal which has since been delayed.

Pannu's statement in response to Monday's court proceedings was followed by that of a similar one from parent company BIHL.

"The board wishes to clarify that the guilty verdict against Mr Yeung in no way affects the normal business operations of the company and its subsidiaries," it read.

However, Birmingham supporters' group Blues Trust hope the verdict "marks the beginning of a new era" at the midlands club.

Although they acknowledge that is unlikely to happen in the immediate short-term.

A statement from the organisation read: "From the highs of winning the Carling Cup to relegation from the Premier League and the subsequent financial struggles that have followed, the past three years have presented some of the most difficult times in the club's history.

"Despite this, Blues supporters have stuck by the club and have shown incredible loyalty to the UK-based playing and non-playing club staff throughout.

"We hope that today's verdict marks the beginning of a new era, where we are able to put this troubling period behind us as soon as possible.

"However, we do appreciate that there will be a period of uncertainty whilst the ultimate ownership of the club is decided and long-term stability is restored."

The Football League later gave its response to Monday's events. A spokesman said: "The Football League notes the reports relating to the conviction of Carson Yeung in Hong Kong.

"The League's Owners' and Directors' test prohibits anyone that is convicted of offences involving dishonesty from owning more than 30 per cent of a member club or exercising control over a club.

"Since the commencement of these criminal proceedings, the club's holding company has introduced revised arrangements to ensure that it could relist on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and comply with Football League regulations. They include the resignation of Mr Yeung from all directorships, and the introduction of new working capital to ensure the ongoing financial viability of the group.

"The League has been working with the club during this period and, based on the information provided, is satisfied that Birmingham City complies with its requirements regarding ownership, as well as having funding arrangements in place until the end of the 2013/14 season, at least.

"At this stage, The League does not require any financial assurances beyond this point."

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