THE directors of a company which went bust owing more than £3 million have been banned from running a business.

Burgess Hill company Coin Co International were contracted by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2007 to empty parking meters and pass on funds to to the council.

The company was paid about £300,000 a year to collect £11 million in cash from parking meters and £8 million in cash from council offices and schools.

But in 2014 it went into administration with debts close to £10 million, £3,305,555 of which was owed to Brighton and Hove City Council.

Councillors expressed amazement and outrage such a debt could have been allowed to build up in a cash-handling business.

Yesterday the four directors of the family firm were censured by the Insolvency Service (IS) and accepted a ban preventing them from taking any company directorships for a total of 32 years.

The disqualifications prevent the directors from directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company for the duration of their terms.

The investigations by the IS found several instances of mismanagement.

The directors – John and Doreen Baker of Hassocks, and their children Sean Baker of Burgess Hill and Joanne Baker of Brighton – did not dispute that they: l Held on to £5.7 million of clients’ money, in contravention of their contract l Caused or allowed the company to breach commercial agreements relating to a coin collection service provided to a number of clients l Allowed the company to fall behind with payments of collected funds.

There is no suggestion of any criminal wrongdoing.

Robert Clarke, investigations group leader at the IS said: “It is clear that companies handling money on behalf of others have a duty to ensure that funds collected are duly paid over to the rightful owners, under the agreements entered into.

“Directors who fail in these duties will be investigated and removed from the corporate arena for a lengthy period.”

Yesterday former managing director John Baker told The Argus the family had accepted the arrangement, having run out of money to defend the case through the courts.

He believes the debts – which built up very quickly, after decades of prudent management – were a result of the business accidentally overpaying one client, to the detriment of others.

He said: “Where did the money go? That’s our question too.”

While they have technically entered into a voluntary undertaking not to take on directorships, the IS explained the family have “accepted a ban”.

THE Argus reported in 2016 that administrators had concluded the city’s £3.3 million was gone for good – Coin Co International (CCI) had only tens of thousands in the bank to cover millions in debts.

Businessmen, union bosses and community leaders voiced their anger that the total had been allowed to build up.

The £3,305,555 owed to Brighton and Hove city council represents more than four months’ worth of parking meter revenues.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report said there were indicators which could have alerted the council to financial difficulties at CCI, including fluctuations in the time taken for CCI to bank the cash it had collected.

Mark Turner of the GMB union said: “It’s absolutely outrageous given the financial state of the council.”

Parking campaigner Steve Perry said: “After the first month wasn’t paid the red light should have been flashing.

“It shouldn’t have been allowed to get to that amount.”

Yesterday a Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “We’re pleased that the directors of Coin Co International have been disqualified and cannot act as company directors in the future.

“The city council has implemented many measures to safeguard us and therefore our tax payers, including stopping cash coin collection and changing our parking machines to card and phone payments.”


IN JUNE 2016 when The Argus revealed Brighton and Hove City Council and its taxpayers had no chance of recovering the £3.3 million it was owed by Coin Co International, we interviewed its managing director John Baker.

The interview was not published during the investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Below we publish Mr Baker’s take on the debts and the problems faced by his family business.


He said: “I started Coin Co International in June 1981 having been made redundant.

“The original aim of the business was to collect and exchange current foreign coins for airlines and other major organisations.

“The business did this very successfully for 33 years and at the time of the administration employed 100 people and had offices in six countries.

“During this time a huge number of charities asked to use our services and I am proud of the fact that over the 33 years we helped many hundreds of charities and Non Governmental Organisations around the world raise more than £200 million from unwanted foreign coins.

Business finances

“In 2004/5 my wife and I owned the freehold of the  buildings, independently valued at £2.2 million, occupied by our company.  “As an investment we gave the buildings to our company.

“At the time of the administration the company owed us personally £1.2 million and we see no chance of recovering this.

“Whilst you are right to say our home is valued at £1.3 million, it does have a mortgage on it and two bank charges.”

Creditors’ expectations

“I am aware that the administrator and his associates have incurred costs of £800,000 to date and that these costs will be  taken from the monies within the company.  “Had the stock been returned to the charities or sold at the correct value it would have cleared the money owed to charities.”

Repayment of debt 

“I can only deal with the claims of the administrator and his legal team.

“I have no funds available to repay any of the company’s debts, having lost all our savings in the company. 

“If and when we can recover some of the money we invested we will need this to provide an income for ourselves.”

Payments to directors 

“My salary was £60,000.  Whilst I was employed by the company I did not receive any dividends.”

How did CCI go bust?

“Like you, we do not understand how our successful business can turn from profit to such a large loss so quickly.  “The administrator puts it down to long term losses.

“We know the loss is an actual loss of cash, not trading losses or bad book-keeping.

“As we were processing £3m to £4m in coins per week for eight years, it puts £4m to £5m into some sort of perspective.”


“I would still describe myself and my family as honest, reliable and ethical business men and women."