Cash did not stay long in accounts: witness

By Thomas Chan, South China Morning Post

A number of high-value cash transactions were conducted through Birmingham City football club owner Carson Yeung Ka-sing's bank accounts with no apparent cause, a forensic accountant told a court yesterday.

It is one of the hallmarks that prosecution witness Roderick Sutton, a fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, has identified in Yeung's five bank accounts which are at the centre of his money laundering trial.

The court heard that a total of HK$40.1 million originated from 21 cash deposits, where each exceeded HK$1 million.

Other features were that the bank accounts had been used as a repository for funds and the funds were transferred out in a very short time, it heard.

Cash was deposited into Yeung's accounts and then transferred to securities firms to conceal the real source of funds, Sutton said.

Yeung is accused of laundering HK$721 million through the five accounts which were with Wing Lung Bank and HSBC.

He denies the charges.

The alleged offences took place from January 2001 to December 2007.

The prosecution highlighted transactions that took place on the same day with the same amounts, and multiple transfers on the same day, when prosecutor John Reading SC led Sutton to explain the money laundering features to the court.

The court heard earlier that Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), one of the six companies authorised to operate casinos in Macau, issued a series of cash cheques for a total of HK$72.5 million, which were deposited into Yeung's and his father's accounts.

Sutton said the funds might be related to gambling activities in casinos but no supporting documents had been found so far.

"Cash transactions with parties associated with money laundering activities such as casinos, security brokerage firms, insurance companies, and jewellery shops should prompt further investigation as to the source of funds," he said.

Sutton said he did not have any information as to the reasons for the deposit of cash cheques issued by SJM.

The court also heard that Yeung's accounts showed significant deposits received, but the income declared in the tax returns was not commensurate with the deposits received.

Yeung suffered from financial hardship between 1999 and 2003 when no income was reported. He received a total salary of HK$1.65 million from 2004 to 2006 as a director of Universal Management Consultancy.

Yeung's father Yeung Chung set up a vegetable stall called Yeung Kee in wet market, and received a total profit of HK$6,880 from 2004 to 2006.

Yeung became executive director and chairman of Grandtop International, now known as Birmingham International, which controls English soccer club Birmingham City in 2007.

The trial continues today.