HONG KONG - Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeung took the stand for the first time in his HK$721 million (US$92.98 million) money laundering trial in Hong Kong on Tuesday, explaining how he made his fortune and saying missing documents hampered his case.
Yeung, a 53-year-old hairdresser-turned-tycoon, is accused of knowingly using ill-gotten money and channelling it through five bank accounts between January 2001 and December 2007.
Yeung has denied five charges of money laundering and on Tuesday denied ever suspecting that the money in the five bank accounts were proceeds of crime.
The businessman described to the court how he built his fortune through hair salons, share trading in Hong Kong and property investments in Southeast Asia.
When asked why he once held as many as 35 stock trading accounts, Yeung said he hoped to get larger credit facilities.
He also said he needed large sums to meet margin calls quickly, adding that the largest he made was worth about HK$10 million.
His defence team had sought to have the case thrown out, saying documents missing from securities brokerages and delays by investigators would result in an unfair hearing.
"If those documents had been available, the sources of funds and cash would have been clear. Because whether it's cash or cheques there would have been (bank) records," said Yeung, who wore a dark suit and black-and-yellow striped tie.
Yeung initially chose not to testify in the trial which has been running since April, and lawyers were due to make their closing submissions on Tuesday.
In late September, the judge granted Yeung's request to take the stand to defend himself against the charges.
Yeung, who heads Hong Kong-listed Birmingham International Holdings Ltd, was arrested in June 2011.
Trading in shares of the English second-tier football club's parent has since been suspended. The company had a market value of $77 million before the trading suspension.