Carson Yeung Was Convicted Of Two Other Offenses Before Birmingham Takeover
League Championship side Birmingham City Owner Carson Yeung, now serving a six-year prison sentence in Hong Kong for money laundering, "was convicted of two other criminal offences in the past decade," yet the Premier League "still allowed him to take over" the club '09 and remain chairman in 10, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. Yeung's other convictions took place in '04 and '10, yet the Football League allowed Yeung "to remain Birmingham's chairman until he stepped down last month." Both leagues have "owners and directors" tests -- previously the "fit and proper persons" test -- which prohibit people from becoming directors of a football club, or owners of a substantial stake, if they have "unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty." The judge also found that £2.8M of laundered money was used to buy Birmingham City shares in '07. Birmingham City did inform the Premier League of Yeung's '04 conviction in Hong Kong, but "he was still allowed to take over and become the club's chairman." This "was because the same offence," of failing to disclose a significant shareholding in a stock exchange-listed company, "had been decriminalized in the U.K. by the Labour government" in '00. The judge found that HK$36M of the laundered money, including HK$18M from Cheung Chi-tai, "was transferred to Prince Evans, a London firm of solicitors, and used to buy the Birmingham City shares in 2007." The judge, who described Yeung as "a habitual liar, did not believe Yeung's claim that the money was in fact used to buy a property in London." Neither the Premier League nor the Football League "believe their rules or governance have failed in relation to Yeung's takeover or chairmanship of Birmingham City." The Premier League said in a statement that its rules go beyond the law for people investing in the U.K., and "Premier League football is one of the most regulated and transparent sectors of U.K. sport or business" (GUARDIAN, 3/13).