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Seven charged following investigation into 2010 collapse of Crown Currency Exchange Ltd


Five men and two women have today (August 15) been charged following an investigation into the collapse of currency exchange company, Crown Currency Exchange, and two associated companies.

Sue Patten, Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Following a thorough investigation by Devon & Cornwall  Police, we have today authorised seven people to be charged in connection with two companies operating in the field of foreign currency exchange - Crown Currency Exchange Ltd and Crown Holdings Ltd and a third associated 'cash for gold' company - Mayfair and Grant Ltd.

"It is alleged that Peter Benstead and Edward James, joint Directors of Crown Currency Exchange Ltd and Crown Holdings, between 1 December 2006 and 31 October 2010, knowingly carried on business for a fraudulent purpose and falsified accounts. The secretary to the companies, Stephen Matthews, and senior manager at the companies, Roderick Schmidt, are charged with the same offences.

"Peter Benstead is also charged with theft. It is alleged that he removed over £1m from the companies of which he was a co-Director during the relevant period. Additionally, he faces two counts of perverting the course of justice, one of which is with his daughters Katey Benstead and Victoria OBrien, in relation to the alleged burning of documents connected to the companies.

"Further, Peter Benstead is also charged with one count of converting criminal property in relation to the purchase of a property. Peter Benstead's son Julian Benstead is charged with one count of fraudulent trading and one count of theft of gold, both in relation to 'cash for gold' company Mayfair and Grant Ltd, of which Peter Benstead was a joint Director. Peter Benstead, along with his daughter Katey, is also charged with one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception concerning a fraudulent mortgage application.

"Peter Benstead, Edward James, Stephen Matthews and Roderick Schmidt will also face two counts each of failing to keep adequate accounting records with regards to Crown Currency Exchange Ltd and Crown Holdings Ltd.

"This decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and a prosecution is in the public interest.

"All seven defendants will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 17 September 2013. Criminal proceedings are now underway and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice this trial."


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Division, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism, and Organised Crime. In 2011-2012, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department of Health (DoH) prosecution functions were transferred to the CPS. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. In 2010-2011 the CPS employed around 7,745 people and prosecuted 957,881 cases with 116,898 of these in the Crown Court, and the remaining 840,983 in the magistrates' courts. Of those we prosecuted, 93,106 defendants were convicted in the Crown Court and 727,491 in the magistrates' courts. In total 86% of cases prosecuted resulted in a conviction. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.