Cornwall

Crown Currency Exchange victims must wait months

Customers of a collapsed Cornwall currency company have been warned it could be six months before they hear if they are going to get any cash back.

Crown Currency Exchange (CCE) in Hayle went into administration on Monday, owing individual amounts of between £300 and £10,000.

Administrators MCR said the company had about £3m in assets, while about £20m was owed to customers.

That suggests the bulk of the money owed will not be repaid.

Speaking to the BBC, Paul Clark from MCR said his company was still in the early stages of investigating what had gone wrong at CCE.

He said speculation that the company had been engaging in risky "hedging" practices did not appear to be correct, and the business model looked remarkably simple.

No compensation cover

But he said that customers should not expect an answer on whether they would be repaid until at least the New Year.

An earlier statement from the administrators had said customers should expect to wait up to six months for further details on any repayments.

Mr Clark also stressed that the currency exchange firm was not covered by Financial Services Authority (FSA) compensation schemes, so customers would not be able to recover their money through the regulator.

Customers owed money need to register with MCR as a creditors of CCE to get money back from the company's remaining cash.

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis told BBC News: "It is a desperate situation, but unfortunately the laws in this country mean that a company can carry on trading with relatively little indication that it is going to stop.

"The real disgrace is that if you buy your holiday money in the UK and something goes wrong, there is absolutely no protection."

He advised people to buy their currency face-to-face in order to avoid losing their money.

Some customers of CCE had bought their currency weeks or even months in advance as a form of currency speculation.

But many simply bought currency to fund trips abroad or overseas property purchases.

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