Football: Jailed ex-Birmingham boss freed on bail pending appeal over laundering conviction

Birmingham City then-owner Carson Yeung arriving at the Wanchai district court in Hong Kong in this May 3, 2013 file photo.
Birmingham City then-owner Carson Yeung arriving at the Wanchai district court in Hong Kong in this May 3, 2013 file photo. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - Birmingham City's jailed former owner Carson Yeung was freed on bail in Hong Kong on Friday, pending an appeal against his conviction for money laundering.

He was jailed for six years in March 2014 in a case that gripped the southern Chinese city and fans of the English football club with its tales of unexplained dealings and financial transactions involving local businessmen and an alleged triad member.

Yeung was convicted on five charges of laundering HK$721 million (S$130 million).

A previous appeal bid was rejected in May, but Yeung was granted the right to challenge his conviction.

"I feel well," the 55-year-old, whose usual jet-black hair appeared grey, told reporters as he walked away from the courthouse.

Yeung was freed by the Court of Final Appeal, the city's highest court, on HK$7 million bail and cash surety of HK$6 million, the South China Morning Post said.

He was ordered not to leave Hong Kong and report to police three times a week.

Leave to appeal was granted based on legal questions raised by Yeung's defence in written submissions, the Post reported.

He was charged in June 2011, two years after he bought the team.

He remains the largest shareholder in the club's holding company, according to the Hong Kong stock exchange website, despite resigning from all positions before the trial verdict.

Birmingham - who were relegated from the Premiership in 2011, three months after winning the English League Cup - have been in talks with potential bidders over the past few years.

Little known before his emergence in English football, hairdresser-turned-tycoon Yeung took control of Birmingham City in October 2009 in an £81 million (S$176.8 million) takeover from David Sullivan and David Gold, now the co-owners of West Ham.

Yeung's appeal hearing will take place on May 31 next year.