Football: Former Birmingham boss facing seven years in jail for money-laundering

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Birmingham City Football Club boss Carson Yeung was found guilty by a Hong Kong court on Monday of five counts of money-laundering in a high-profile trial that cast a spotlight on how the barber-turned-businessman made his fortune.

Yeung, who had denied the charges of laundering US$93 million (S$118 million) between January 2001 and December 2007, will be sentenced on Friday. He faces up to seven years in jail.

He initially bought 29.91 per cent of the shares in Birmingham City Football Club in 2007 and then acquired the rest of the shares for approximately US$130 million in 2009, through his company, Birmingham International Holdings.

He stepped down as chairman and executive director of the listed company last month while he awaited a verdict.

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.

Delivering his verdict to a packed courtroom after a trial that lasted more than 50 days, District Court 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.

"I find the defendant not a witness of truth. I find that he is someone who is prepared to, and did try to, lie whenever he saw the need to do so," the judge said.

Yeung left the courtroom without commenting on the conviction. His lawyer, Graham Harris, declined to comment.