HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong businessman and Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung may be stripped of his shares in the club following his guilty verdict for money laundering, a government prosecutor said on Tuesday.
A Hong Kong court on Monday convicted Yeung on five charges related to laundering HK$720 million (S$118 million) between 2001 and 2007, and he could face seven years in jail when sentenced on Friday.
Shares held by Yeung in Birmingham could now be seized as part of a criminal asset confiscation scheme under Hong Kong law.
"Any assets can be confiscated," lead prosecution lawyer John Reading told AFP.
"I see no reason why shares should not be included," he said.
However, the judge in Yeung's case had not yet specified the amount he regarded as representative of the proceeds of the crime, Mr Reading said.
The confiscation process could be lengthy, Hong Kong University law professor Simon Young told AFP, adding that there would be bargaining to determine which assets belonging to a defendant should be used to satisfy the order.
"Enforcement may not take place until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted and that could take years," Young said.
Defendants found guilty in a Hong Kong district court, where Yeung was convicted, can appeal to the Court of Appeal of the High Court and then to the Court of Final Appeal.
Judge Douglas Yau had criticised Yeung's "self-contradictory" testimony in his Monday verdict, and said the businessman was "making it up as he went along".
In February, Yeung resigned as chairman and executive director of Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), which owns the struggling second-tier club, but is still its largest shareholder.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that a Chinese advertising company registered at the address of a government residential complex in Beijing had agreed to buy 12 per cent of Birmingham City from BIHL, the Financial Times reported.
BIHL agreed to sell the stake in the club to Beijing Liangzhu Guoji Chuanmei Guanggao on Feb 12, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
"The company can raise further capital from the (sale) and will be able to collaborate with the new Chinese partners to enter into the China market through their connections," BIHL said in the filing.
Under the HK$45 million deal, the Chinese company can appoint up to two of the club's four directors.
Birmingham International, which was unavailable for comment when contacted by AFP, refused to explain why the firm did not exist at its registered address, citing confidentiality clauses, the paper said.
The deal could later require approval of England's Football Association, the filing said.
Yeung, whose Cantonese name is Yeung Ka-sing, emerged in 2007 with a bid for Birmingham. The takeover attempt failed when he missed the deadline to hand over money.
He quietly acquired a 29.9-percent stake and in 2009, Yeung's Grandtop International Holdings - which later became BIHL - bought the club.