Often Partisan

Xtep and Vico Hui – Questions for Pannu

As Birmingham City struggle on with news that further players have to be sold to ensure cashflow is in place for the remainder of the season, there have been many questions online about the Xtep fiasco and the steps being taken by the Club and/or BIH to pursue the lost monies.

The Xtep deal was signed in January 2010 and was trumpeted as a huge deal for Birmingham City – Peter Pannu was quoted in the Birmingham Mail at the time as saying

“This is a very exciting deal,”

“It is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what Carson Yeung is doing for us in China.

The deal, which was valued at £7.8million over five years was seen as the start of a plan to market Birmingham City in China and to create a huge new revenue stream to help fund the club.

However, as we found out it didn’t transpire like that. Birmingham City struggled to obtain the kit that they needed and the merchandise that they needed to sell. Furthermore, it became evident that Birmingham City hadn’t seen a penny of the money raised from the deal.

Things came to a head in June 2012 when Pannu made an explosive statement to Blues fans where he said:

“The queries related to the Xtep deal, the accounting treatment and details of an unannounced “counter sponsorship” arrangement between BIHL and the sponsor as personally handled by Mr Vico Hui and Miss Pauline Wong. Further points were raised regarding the selling of merchandise in China at the sponsor’s stores with modified BCFC logos.”

“A BCFC board meeting was also called by me on 22 June 2012 which Mr Hui failed to attend to answer all queries raised.”

“It is understood that Vico Hui has resigned from the BIHL board and his resignation has been accepted. This will take effect from the July 1 2012. It is unclear if he will also resign from the BCFC and BC PLC boards but further changes may occur and in which case will no doubt be communicated as appropriate.”

Vico subsequently resigned from the board of  Birmingham International Holdings on June 29 2012, and from the board of Birmingham City FC on July 11.

However, Vico Hui remains a substantial shareholder of BIH, holding a 4.21% stake in the company via his British Virgin Islands investment vehicle Premier Rise Investments.

With Birmingham City struggling for cash, there has been many questions with respect to BCFC or BIH recovering lost monies with respect to the Xtep deal but when the question was put to Peter Pannu by this website via email recently he declined to comment. However, one could understand that due to legal and confidentiality issues Mr Pannu may not be able to say anything specific about the situation.

Furthermore, one cannot examine the accounts of Birmingham International Holdings as they are unavailable for the time in question. Despite extensive searches of Companies House here and in Hong Kong, it has been impossible to locate a company called “Birmingham (Hong Kong) Ltd” as described in the BIH announcement with respect to the Xtep deal and one can only assume that said company is established in a tax haven like the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Islands where company information is impossible to obtain.

Recent information that has come to light following further investigation by this website is more disturbing. Despite Mr Hui’s resignation from Birmingham International Holdings and BCFC, documents obtained from HK Companies House confirm that Mr Hui remains a director of various companies that are based at the same offices as BIH.

Of the four companies in question, Birmingham Culture and Communications Ltd and Birmingham (China) Ltd are owned by Vico Hui, Blue Noses Ltd is owned by a BVI company called Win Hugo Investment Developments Ltd and Birmingham International Management Ltd is fully owned by Birmingham International Holdings Ltd.

All four are based at the BIH offices in Harbour Centre, Wan Chai. All four barring Birmingham International Management Ltd list Vico Hui as sole director and Pauline Wong (who is also an executive director of BIH and was implicated by Peter Pannu in his statement above) as company secretary, with the aforementioned Birmingham International Management Ltd naming Ip Wing Lun (who was  company secretary of BIH until December 7 2012 and is Pauline Wong’s husband) as company secretary and Pauline Wong, Vico Hui and Chan Shun Wah (another BIH executive director) as directors.

With this new information, I have the following questions (which have been forwarded to Mr Pannu for his response). As of yet I have not received a reply.

1) Can Mr Pannu confirm if Birmingham International Holdings received any monies with respect to the Xtep deal and if so can Mr Pannu confirm why they remained in Hong Kong?

2) Can Mr Pannu confirm what connection the four companies above (Birmingham Culture and Communications Ltd, Birmingham (China) Ltd, Blue Noses Ltd and Birmingham International Management Ltd) have with Birmingham International Holdings Ltd?

3) Can Mr Pannu advise why Mr Hui remains a director of a wholly owned BIH subsidiary (Birmingham International Management Ltd) if there remains a question over Mr Hui’s conduct with respect to the Xtep deal?

4) Can Mr Pannu advise why Ms Wong remains an executive director of BIH and director of a wholly owned BIH subsidiary (Birmingham International Management Ltd) if there remains a question over Ms Wong’s conduct with respect to the Xtep deal?

Finally, 5) If monies are missing from the Xtep deal then can Mr Pannu advise if he does intend to raise legal proceedings against any and all alleged guilty parties?

Whilst Birmingham City remain in financial strife it’s understandable that fans will question what has happened to see the club in this parlous position. Whilst I remain convinced of the truth that no monies have left these shores for HK as I have been assured many times by the club, I think this is one area that seems to have been quietly forgotten and needs to be addressed by Pannu and/or the BIH board

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40 Responses to “Xtep and Vico Hui – Questions for Pannu”

  • RUPERT says:

    Should the police investigatethis Xtep deal ? It appears a criminal offence may have been commited ?

    • almajir says:

      I don’t think that accusation could be made without actually knowing truly where the money has gone. People have suspicions but there isn’t any hard evidence.

  • Oby says:

    Good work Dan, It will be interesting to see if PP responds eh ?

  • philanza says:

    Good work dan it will be interesting to see if PP ever replies to your questions.
    Is there any other way of finding out if there is anything in place that prevents monies leaving the club whilst CYs assets are frozen? rather than just PPs word?
    On another note, letters on another forum being made for PPs attention suggest asset stripping
    but again it depends whether money is allowed to leave the club as to whether that is possible, if it were possible. PP could actually be biding time, not even persuing the sale of our club just stringing us along whilst assets are being stripped away, Again only possible if monies are allowed to leave the club.

  • philip says:

    i think that the time has come for a new club to be formed and let the supporters decide were they think the future lies

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    Jeez !!!
    I have to take my hat off to you again AJ.
    Incredible research.
    …………..
    With regard to Vico though. It was he who raised Carson’s bail and thus stands surety.
    And thus stands financial loss if Carson legs it.
    And it isn’t a small amount, probably greater than the “Xtep deal” all told.
    A lot here seems to hinge on relationships, I think, business as well as personal, and in that respect I think Peter Pannu is a latecomer to this particular party.
    Vico and Carson go back years…Pauline and Carson go back even further.
    In fact they go back to the foundations of Carson’s defence…i.e. that he was a wealthy man prior to the huge movements of cash through his accounts.
    For which he is standing trial – (the prosecution are insisting it was money laundering, when in reality it is a discrepancy between tax paid and the volume of monies Carson handled. As his last adjourning Judge qualified)
    Pauline is pretty crucial to that defence of Carson being “wealthy” and may be she is a future target if Carson is found guilty.
    (That speculation is probably going to keep a few forums busy :-) )
    Once again, well done. Meant so sincerely.
    Here’s you doing this and the Birmingham Mail can’t afford to send Tatts to Dublin to interview Fahey.

    • Paul Kimber says:

      Pannu has known Carson for 20+ years I think, still regardless what a MESS & to youse the priud name of Birmingham & Blue nose to set up these companies, disgrace!

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason he says:

    For a barrister practising in that country a lot of what has gone on in HK seems to have passed Mr Pannu by? Would have thought with all the time he spends out there that he’d be on top of all of it.

    • Ali Duncan says:

      A barrister and an (Acting) Head Honcho of a PLC. A bit worrying that so much has gone wrong on his watch. I’m sure we’re not the only ones questioning his business credentials and (if I was a potential buyer) I’d be seriously worried about doing a deal with him considering his track record.

  • prewarblue says:

    So NO money has left Blues for HK,,,,,,does that mean,,,,ALL those based in HK that were on the board got NO directors fee,s,,,,,,,,or were paid for their time as managing director,,,,,,,no HK based people were paid as consultants for arranging the Xtep deal,,,,,my my these people are so generous giving up their time and effort so freely,,,,,,,you would think as buisness men they would want adequate recompense for all this wouldnt you,,,,,,,,,and Blues fans are expected to believe this ??,,,,I certainly havnt from the start of denials from St Andrews about the missing cash

    • almajir says:

      There is no “missing cash” though.

      Let me put something to you – if money was being siphoned off to HK from BCFC, given it’s current state do you think people wouldn’t already know? Do you not think that there would be an almighty row about it?

      • viperblue says:

        Hi Almajir
        great article as ususal.I would just like to ask who would know if any money as gone to H.K.
        if everyone who would have this kind of info are already “in the loop”it would against their own interests to reveal if any cash as left the club.

        • almajir says:

          The finance director? The senior staff at the club?

          • carlos says:

            I admire your loyalty Almajir, but why didn’t the finance director/senior staff raise the alarm when the xtep contract didn’t roll up at BCFC, after all it was lauded by Pannu in the media as you’ve already stated. This didn’t come to light until the auditors flagged it, but I have not seen any comments regarding this other than from Pannu, who then feigned indignation and dismay that certain parties in HK were not playing the game, to much praise from some people who thought it proved he was looking out for BCFC.

      • prewarblue says:

        I,m sorry I refed to “Missing cash” of corse I meant “DirectorsManagement fees as paid to Sullivan, Gold and Brady a year in advance I seem to remember,,,,,,at least they had the decency to return those [after it was made public ],,,,,,,and can you explain if there has been no “ALL Mighty Row” why there have been so many changes on both boards,,,,,,didnt Ceasar exclaim “Et Tu Brutus” as his best friend stabbed him in the back ?.

        Purely as a passing thought can you find out if Hui and Wong have anything to do with the Board of Xtep,,, or is it just me thinking corruption seeing as it is acknowledged by the authorities in HK and China as rife

        • almajir says:

          The decency to return it when they were threatened with legal action more like…

          As for the crap hitting the fan – what has happened is nothing compared to the storm that would be raised if money was being siphoned off, believe me.

          In answer to your xtep question, it’s a no. Their board is listed here: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?ticker=1368:HK

          • Quokkasskip says:

            Dan

            No one at Bcfc will notice this xtep money being ‘siphoned’ off as it was never paid to BCFC in the first place.

            You can setup other marketing companies that receive monies but these must adher to strict international transfer pricing rules.

            Simply this Xtep deal Was one of the main reasons Bcfc accounts were unqualified by the auditors as no material consideration was given to BCFC. Ie £7.8m or services to that value from the Birmingham Hong Kong Co.

            In my opinion It is potential corporate fraud or tax evasion so PP will not respond with any substance.

          • prewarblue says:

            I yeild to your superior knowledge regarding the Xtep board make up,,,,,but still find it strange that a company such as Xtep can accept the damage done to their reputation by this deal with Hui and wong without taking some form of action

  • johnf says:

    Superb sleuthing aj. What part is HSBC playing in this situation? Months back I remember a statement that they were exercising a protective interest in the club’s assets.

    • almajir says:

      HSBC? None I would think. They might have a debenture but I don’t think that means that they care as much as people think.

  • Colin Carberry says:

    To all the “professional” journalists who read this blog and use it as a source for your “exclusives”. Stop and think for a moment – how can a lone bloke working from his house in Birmingham consistently turn out such well-researched and well-written stuff when you lot are paid to do so, but fail miserably. Are you really earning your money? Do your employers know how far off the pace you are?

    • DoctorD says:

      I’m not defending those journos, but they have to cover multiple clubs — not just one — and so simply don’t have time to devote to this kind of investigation that Al is doing.

      It is true that the broadsheets do occasionally do indepth financial investigations of certain clubs, particularly Man United and the Glazer family. Sadly, however, Blues are just not big enough to make anyone other than Blues fans interested in this saga of the Xtep deal. That’s why the papers haven’t done much on this story that’s as rigorous as this site.

      Al — why don’t you ask the Guardian, Mail or Telegraph that you write a big 2000-word analysis of the club’s finances?

      • KeeprightCroydON says:

        Actually the nationals do have investigative journalists just for this sort of thing. True they will concentrate on the bigger clubs, but I have read reports in the part in the Guardian on Saturdays on Hull and Stoke.

        This has been going on for such a long time, with lots of twists & turns and intrigue so surely some investigative journalist could be tempted to pop his nut over the parapet. It could actually be a fascinating read.

        • DoctorD says:

          Yes it would be great if someone really got hold of the story. I mean, it has everything: dodgy kit deals, a hairdresser-turned-millionaire, the Brady/Gold combo, arrests, court cases, relegation, Hong Kong lawyers, unpublished accounts, Palladini’s antics, a transfer embargo, player sales, and, er, Lee Clark. It would make a great soap on telly one day:

    • Art Watson says:

      Couldn’t agree more-well said!

      My views on Tatts and Ross are well documented.

      They should both hang their heads in shame but I’m sure they won’t .

  • prewarblue says:

    While I disagree with you on certain points I do congratulate you,,,,,your efforts deserve this,,,,,,and your opinions as well [ although I dont agree with them !! lol ]

  • Brian king says:

    Why so many companies based in HK connected to BCFC, what do all the companies do. Birmingham Culture and Communications Ltd, Birmingham (China) Ltd, Blue Noses Ltd, Win Hugo Investment Developments Ltd and Birmingham International Management Ltd is fully owned by Birmingham International Holdings Ltd, why do they exist .

  • Mickey07 says:

    Well done mayor,would you let Neil moxley use this blog you done so it could go national and give us a bit more coverage?

  • Ernie says:

    All very well and good but what does this tell me exactly? Not much

  • Woodlands says:

    This is an excellent piece that confirms that Blues are effectively held hostage to a group of people based in China who are interwoven by family, personal and business connections that were set up to market a ‘Premier League Franchise’ that has no revelance to ‘our’ club and will end only once all those involved see no continuing value in that franchise. They are group that have no interest in what goes on at St Andrews. Sad but ultimately true.

  • swissjonny says:

    Great Job Almajir.Puts a different slant on why perhaps Pannu is not chasing Vico Hui.

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    Thank you almajir for your original and excellent piece of investigative work on behalf of your fellow Bluenoses.

    Any financial transactions will leave a paper trail at some stage. This would not be the case only if it was done in pure cash, no contracts with a verbal agreement and a nod and a wink. Money has to be paid into accounts, withdrawn, moved on etc., if the auditors raised queries then obviously there is something to be concerned about and only the central characters can comment and reveal the details. One side cannot erase it from the other sides books and sooner or later it will come to light when someone looks hard enough.

    Don’t know whether PP was privy to all the machinations and agreements before BIH was formed, and whether CY had certain ‘arrangements’ with the likes of Hui and Wong and what their remits would allow them to do. Also believe that PP’s hand has been forced to get BIH’s accounts in order, as that could have been one of the stumbling blocks to a sale to Charles Chan’s group, and PP realises that no sale may be able to take place until the books are updated properly. He may not be able to force CY to pressure Hui and Wong as much as he would like as well, so he can only try and suggest possible options to him. It’s all very complex and diluted to such an extent that many give up in despair and only wish to see them all gone from BCFC.

    Those ‘missing millions’ are badly needed by the club at present, and we should all try and ensure that they are by keeping it in the headlines and asking questions at every available opportunity.

    It must be very hard and require a high level of discipline, focus and energy, to keep chasing such shadows almajir, so please accept our deepest and sincerest thanks for your remarkable efforts.

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    Well said Colin Carberry – read the comment he made at 9.02am

  • Ali Duncan says:

    God bless the days of the local club being owned by the local boy done good who owned the biggest employer in the area, wore a comedy sheepskin coat and smoked mammoth cigars. All the above and the whole sorry Blues ownership saga really makes me yearn for a bit of transparency in life.

    I’m in no way xenophobic but I would so want our club to be owned by British businessmen. (I appreciate this is not going to happen but from time-to-time I do close my eyes, smile and think blissfully of the good times under Gold, Sully and Karen. So many people took them for granted and they seem a million miles away from where we are now)

  • Paulo says:

    Blimey, that is a sterling piece of work and investigation. I only hope that this either recieves a reply or is seriously recognised as a document that represents ‘further pressure’.

  • romanblue says:

    Very good work mate.excellent.why dont you ask tom ross and tattum directly why they havent found this information before and what are they going to do about it.

  • DoctorD says:

    So Pannu thought the Xtep deal was “just the tip of the iceberg”. Well he was right about that — Blues crashed into it and it almost sank us.

    I am still intrigued by this statement by Pannu in the Birmingham Mail article that Al links to above:

    “There are various other ventures that are still being worked on which, at the moment, are too sensitive to talk about until they crystallize a bit more.”

    I wonder what he had in mind — and are we still at the mercy of any of them? You realise just how blindly optimistic everyone was. It beggars belief where we’ve ended up.

  • Jimbo says:

    Alj I think you can request documents in relation to BVI. I deal with landlords who are registered out there. You have to apply for the documents and such applications come at a price.

    Good work with that digging though. I’m concerned that somebody has “gotten to” the judge in the Yeung case. The lack of time to produce a case and the necessary evidence is a poor excuse and is something that I would have thought would be batted away. – what do you think to this?

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Dan, well done. Am I right in thinking that the Xtep deal was about showing the team in the strip, so that it could be sold in China – little interest in UK sales and no money actually arriving due to ‘clauses’ in the contract that ultimately meant additional monies have to be sent to China. In short, was it no more than a mechanism to drain money from the club? Or would such a statement be libellous?


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