Following LeapRate’s report on Tuesday that the owners of Cornwall-based FX company Crown Currency were due to appear at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, four years after the demise of their company which had £20 million in debts and only £3 million in assets, the prosecution has discovered that Peter Benstead, one of the partners of the firm, along with his son Julian, had stolen gold bars and escaped to France just two days before the firm collapsed.
During the court case, which was held this week, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith accuses Mr. Benstead of stealing gold bars.
Peter and Julian Benstead took a ferry to France two days before the firm collapsed, the jury was told.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said: “Was this when cash and 11 kilos of gold was taken across?”
“Only two people can answer the question about what happened – and they are sitting in the dock.”
Mr Grieves-Smith said Mr Benstead, 72, told staff he lived “modestly”, but in 2010 he and wife Susan, one of the five co-defendents in this long, drawn out case, went on a seven-week cruise at a cost of £36,000.
The allegations of theft now accompany the existing charges of fraud that are leveled at Mr. Benstead and his former business partner, former Mayor of Glastonbury Edward James.
The court also heard that staff at the businesses, based in Hayle, Cornwall, continued to accept more than £2m in the week before going into administration, in October 2010.
Currently, it is estimated that approximately 13,000 individuals have lost money as a result of their dealings with the company, with losses ranging from between $100 for some customers, to as much as $100,000 for others.
The case, which is expected to take up to 11 weeks to resolve, continues.
Photograph courtesy of the BBC: Peter Benstead at Southwark Crown Court yesterday