John Baker: 'We are doing everything we can to find out where the money went'

John Baker, chief executive of Coin Co International
John Baker, chief executive of Coin Co International

In a statement to administrators, John Baker denied any money was misappropriated.

John Baker, chief executive of the now-defunct Coin Co International, is a former detective sergeant in the Metropolitan Police. In this edited extract from a statement to administrators, he denies any money was misappropriated.

Mr and Mrs Wickham live at this £1m house in Wickham Hill, Hurstpierpoint

Mr and Mrs Wickham live at this £1m house in Wickham Hill, Hurstpierpoint

"Following the administration of Laker Airways in 1981, I was made redundant and decided to start my own business, trading as Coin Co International. This was a family partnership registered on June 8 1981. Previously, I had identified a problem in disposing of foreign coins, while working at Laker Airways, and decided I could make a living from buying and selling current foreign coins.

"My wife and I worked from our home address and, although slow to start, [the business] required me to drive all over Europe delivering coins to banks for exchange. Within five years, we had ongoing contracts with British Airways, British Rail, London Underground, and the Post Office - and were employing eight people from a small rented office in Cuckfield. Within 10 years, we had contracts with Deutsche Bundesbank, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telekom, Allied Irish Bank, British Telecom, and many others - and were employing 14 people, from a small industrial unit at Lindfield.

"In 1996, our son, Sean Baker, left the army and joined the company as driver/coin-sorter. In the same year, our daughter, Joanne Baker MA, left the Northern Ireland Meat Marketing Board and joined the company as an administration assistant. Both have worked for the company ever since.

"In 2001, the company moved to larger premises at 58 Victoria Road, Burgess Hill, and took on additional staff to deal with the increase in work. At this time, the company had a turnover of about £3 million.

"With the prospect of the introduction of the Euro in 2002 .... we entered into contracts with many European and world charities or NGOs [Non-governmental organisations], leased seven Mercedes Sprinter vans and three Mercedes Actros trucks and trailers, and employed more than 100 people working shifts 24 hours per day, seven days per week. During the period 2002 to 2005, we collected and processed some 350,000 tons of coins from all over Europe and paid out some £40 million to UK and European charities. A real high point in the company's history.

"As expected, in 2006 and 2007, the turnover and profitability of the company dropped back to pre-Euro times of £5 million, but with a much larger client base the company was well set to grow.

"Our approach to cash-handling was going to be different to G4S and other companies, in that we intended selling the coins and notes we collected, and not banking them. It was not our business plan to open "client's accounts" and keep everyone's money separate. To explain our approach, all banks charge a percentage fee when you deposit coins and notes, and a similar fee when they supply coins and notes. Our business plan was to copy this model, but to undercut the banks' fees. With the consent of our clients, we intended to pay them by bank transfer from our account and use their coins and notes to supply floats and cash to retail clients and other businesses in the southeast. We did not want to be just a cash-collecting business, but wanted to make full use of the sorting and counting facilities we had in Burgess Hill. This was explained to all .... new clients and meant they would make large savings on their bank fees.

"From 2007 to 2010, the volumes of cash being processed increased, with many new local authority contracts being won. So successful was this division that we were emptying some 1,000 parking/ticket machines per day, 365 days per year, and counting and processing something like £500,000 per day.

"Also during this period, the foreign coin side of our business was growing and, in addition to Germany, we opened branch offices in Australia, Canada, and Ireland.

"With over 30 overseas bank accounts and a large number of international clients, trying to produce management accounts within 30 days of the month end always proved difficult.

"On behalf of myself and my fellow directors, I can honestly say that no money has ever been misappropriated by us and that we have always acted in the best interest of the company, the shareholders, and our clients. We still believe the foreign coin part of our business was viable and most creditors were within payment terms of 90 working days. The cash-handling part of our business has collected, processed, banked, and paid correctly over £900 million for coins and notes between 2007 and 2014.

"We still genuinely believe that we must have overpaid one or more of our clients during this period and we are still doing everything we can to identify where this money went so it can be recovered."

The full statement - in Appendix N - can be downloaded here