Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges in his Hong Kong trial
.His lawyer asked for the case to be thrown out, the latest move in a drawn-out legal battle.Graham Harris outlined his arguments to Hong Kong District Court Judge Douglas Yau, saying that police delays would result in an unfair trial.
He spoke after Yeung, a former hairdresser, pleaded not guilty to five counts of money laundering involving more than 720 million Hong Kong dollars (£60 million).The charges involve money deposited into bank accounts from January 2001 to December 2007 - before he won a takeover battle for the football club in October 2009 for £81.5 million.
Mr Harris said that police started investigating Yeung's financial transactions in 2008 but did not arrest him until June 2011, 10 years after the alleged wrongdoing began. He said the elapsed time meant that Yeung's lawyers lost the opportunity to obtain documents such as bank statements, stock trading statements and tax returns related to earlier transactions that could help his defence. "These five charges are unfair," Mr Harris said. "The accused and the legal team, through no fault of their own, have been denied the opportunity to access documentary material which may support the accused's position.
"In all circumstances, it would be unfair for the accused to be tried."
Yeung's application, on what was supposed to be the first day of his trial, follows several delaying attempts. In March, his lawyers unsuccessfully asked for the case to be moved to the High Court for a jury trial. Last year they won a request to delay the trial's scheduled November start so they could have more time to prepare.
Prosecutor John Reading said there was "nothing to suggest" Yeung would receive an unfair trial.Before his takeover of Birmingham.
Yeung was a little-known businessman who reportedly invested in a Macau casino and owned a stake in a Hong Kong newspaper. His only previous experience with professional football consisted of a stint as chairman of Hong Kong Rangers Football Club from 2005-06.
The judge will issue his decision on Friday.