Football: Birmingham owner Yeung's money-laundering verdict delayed to next week

HONG KONG (AFP) - Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung will have to wait until next week to find out whether he has been convicted in a multi-million dollar money-laundering trial, as the judge adjourned a long verdict hearing.

The Hong Kong tycoon had been expecting to discover his fate on Friday, the culmination of a case that has rumbled through the courts for the last two years.

But after reading his summary for five hours, District Court Judge Douglas Yau adjourned proceedings having only read half way through his verdict statement.

"The reading of the verdict for today will stop here," he told a Hong Kong courtroom packed with reporters and members of the public. "We resume at 9.30am on Monday."

Yeung, wearing a dark suit, looked exhausted four hours into the reading of the verdict and was seen nodding off a couple of times in the dock.

He denies five money-laundering charges totalling US$93 million and has repeatedly tried to have proceedings halted claiming irregularities.

Yeung was arrested and charged with ill-gotten gains in the southern Chinese city in June 2011, two years after he acquired the "Blues".

The adjournment caused frustration among some Birmingham City fans, many of whom were British-based and had stayed up late into the night to discover what would become of their club's owner.

"This Carson Yeung trial is farcical just goes on and on and on," Birmingham-based Twitter user @ecakeeprighton wrote.

"My God, this Carson Yeung trial is like watching Eastenders or Coronation Street!! It drags on and on, it's like pulling your teeth out," @mickbcfc1975 tweeted, referring to two long-running and popular British soap operas.

Some fans used the Twitter tag #DelayNoMore to express their wishes for the case to conclude, which also conveniently sounds like a Chinese profanity.

Throughout the trial, Yeung and the prosecution have painted differing pictures of how the businessman's wealth was amassed.

He said he accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in the past two decades through stock trading, hairdressing, business ventures in mainland China and a keen interest in gambling.

However, prosecutor John Reading argued that Yeung's accounts showed that before 2001 he was a man of "modest means".

Yeung, who was little known prior to his emergence in English football, took control of the club in October 2009 in an 81-million pound (S$168 million) takeover from David Sullivan and David Gold, now the co-owners of West Ham.

Earlier this month, he resigned as chairman and executive director of Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), which owns the struggling second-tier club.

The Blues won the League Cup in 2011, but their fortunes have gone downhill since they were relegated later that year.

Yau had nearly finished summarising the trial hearings after he read up to page 46 of the prepared verdict statement, which he said was around 100 pages long. He said the ruling would come at the end of his statement.

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