By Claire West

Administrators, MCR, have today released further information on their investigation into Crown Currency Exchange.

Paul Clark, MCR, stated: “In light of the numerous consumer queries, and as part of the Joint Administrators’ investigations, we would like to clarify certain issues in relation to the Companies’ banking facilities. There has been a lot of speculation in relation to this matter and we hope that by making this information available, creditors will be made fully aware of the facts.”

The Joint Administrators have also requested information from the Companies’ bankers, Barclays Bank Plc, in relation to the events that occurred during the few days prior to the Companies being placed into Administration being made on 4 October 2010.

The Joint Administrators have been told that a meeting was held between the Companies’ sole director, Mr. Peter Benstead, and representatives of Barclays Bank Plc on Wednesday 29th September 2010, at 11am, at the Bristol branch at which time Mr. Benstead advised Barclays that the Companies were insolvent. He also suggested the shortfall to creditors could be in the order of £18 - £20m and following that meeting Barclays considered its position.

Subsequently, a decision was made by Barclays to suspend the Companies’ banking facilities, which included the disconnection of the Companies’ online banking access in order to prevent the Companies from making any unauthorised payments and to protect creditors whilst the situation was being investigated. This block was placed on the accounts in the afternoon of 29 September 2010. After investigation by Barclays, it is understood that Barclays then closed the Companies’ bank accounts at approximately midday on 1 October 2010. The Companies had no lending or credit facilities with Barclays therefore any actions by Barclays were, the Joint Administrators were advised, to preserve funds for the consumers.

The Joint Administrators are presently reviewing the position in relation to all customer transactions that were effected between Wednesday 29 September 2010 and Monday 4 October 2010.

Contact will be made with individual customers in the event that further information is required so that a determination may be made as to whether any person or persons have any rights other than as an unsecured non-preferential creditor.

The Joint Administrators, in light of the above, advised: “This may provide some hope for a very limited number of consumers but we will need to review the position very carefully and taking into account each customer’s individual circumstances prior to making any final decision. Indeed it could well mean that the administrators may need to obtain a determination of the Court. At this moment in time, however, no decision has been made and consumers need not contact the Joint Administrators.”

The Joint Administrators added: “We must consider the position based on the information available within the Companies’ records and this will take some time. We will also be examining all of the Companies’ banking transactions including those during the final few days as to whether any customers may be entitled to be refunded monies from the funds currently held in the Companies’ bank accounts. It is anticipated that this review work will take at least 21 days and as a result the Joint Administrators do not anticipate being able to issue an update on their findings until week commencing Monday 8 November at the earliest.”

The Joint Administrators would ask that customers refrain from sending in any further information in relation to this issue. Please note that no response will be provided to specific queries. The Joint Administrators also note that Barclays is receiving a number of queries from customers in relation to specific payments. Given the Companies are now in administration, any funds in the Companies accounts will now be dealt with by the Joint Administrators (as noted above) and not Barclays, therefore Barclays is unable to provide any specific responses. Any additional information required by the Joint Administrators will be requested in due course.