E-Clear: Court to rule on lost Globespan cash

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The Independent Online

Globespan administrators will take their fight to the high court on Tuesday in an effort to find up to £20m in alleged missing cash from E-Clear, the credit card processing firm.

E-Clear, which is already defending itself in two other lawsuits, could be wound up following the petition from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The card administrator has consistently refused to confirm the amount of money it is holding on behalf of Globespan and its customers despite repeated attempts to clarify the company's cash position by PWC.

A source close to Globespan said: "If E-Clear just came out and provided documentary evidence to the administrator of the funds it is sitting on, the concern that it has no money left would disappear and the creditors and customers could get their money. But E-Clear refuses to do this which continues to arouse suspicion."

Speculation in the travel industry has long centred on fears that E-Clear is sitting on large losses from the failure of XL Leisure last year, which is why it has refused to pay Globespan, and other airlines, monies which it owes. PWC is claiming that £20m of cash held by E-Clear is related to flights and holidays that have taken place and should be repaid immediately.

The administrator had originally asked to have the monies placed in an escrow account, jointly controlled by the two parties, until the row could be resolved – a request that E-Clear has also consistently refused.

It's believed that representatives of the administrator met with E-Clear's founder, Elias Elia, on Thursday during which time an agreement between the two parties could not be reached.

The Serious Fraud Office contacted PWC last week as part of its assessment as to whether a full investigation into the E-Clear situation was needed. It's thought that the administrator advised that a clearer picture would emerge after the high court hearing. It's believed that the police have also spoken to the airline industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, on the matter.

A spokesman for E-Clear claimed on Friday that it had returned £500,000 in refunds to customers of Globespan who lost their flights when the airline collapsed. The spokesman also accused PWC of "changing the goalposts" in its negotiations with E-Clear, however, he was unaware of Tuesday's court hearing. "Why should E-Clear reveal its private position – it is not in administration," said the spokesman. "We have done nothing wrong."

Sources close to the administrator said that the biggest fear was that a court adjournment could further harm creditors. "If E-Clear hasn't got the money then the longer this process is dragged out the more the creditors are hurt," said the source. "A simple bank statement showing that E-Clear has the money would put minds at ease."

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