Globespan administrator mulls claim against E-Clear's bank

PWC considers recouping some of the £20m owed to airline's creditors from Deutsche affiliate
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The Independent Online

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrator to Globespan, the failed Scottish airline, is considering pursuing an affiliate of Deutsche Bank for the £20m it is owed by E-Clear, the collapsed credit card processing company.

Globespan was grounded in December in large part because of the failure of E-Clear, which held on to as much as £30m it owed the airline at the time. A High Court hearing subsequently discovered a £100m hole in E-Clear's finances, which could yet be the subject of a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

PWC is assessing whether it can recoup monies it thinks Globespan is owed by E-Clear from Pago, which is part-owned by Deutsche Bank. Pago, which is itself a creditor to E-Clear, handled the banking side of the credit card processor until last year when it severed ties with the company. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Pago but the administrator is considering whether it has a claim against it and if it could mount a legal challenge to recover funds it believes are owed to Globespan's creditors.

"The administrators have to look at all the possible ways they can recover money and analysis of Pago's relationship with E-Clear is one possible route," said one travel industry source.

The accountant BDO is currently administering the collapse of E-Clear, although it's thought unlikely any material assets will be recovered during the process. BDO is downloading information from around 100 computers taken from E-Clear's luxurious headquarters in London's Berkeley Square. The accountant has tasked around 10 staff to tackle the complex recovery process.

Elias Elia, the founder of E-Clear, was still believed to be in contact with the administrator up until last week. Mr Elia was unavailable for comment.

It is believed that BDO tried last month to persuade creditors to E-Clear to provide it with additional funds to continue its investigation into the failed firm. But both major creditors to E-Clear – PWC acting for Globespan, and the Canadian travel firm Sunwing – are thought to have declined, preferring to pursue alternative avenues to recoup money. The lack of funds to support the administration could see BDO end its investigations into E-Clear's affairs soon.

A source close to the E-Clear administration said: "There simply isn't anything there for the creditors so what's the point of throwing good money after bad. People have already lost enough money on this saga."

A meeting of Globespan's creditors is scheduled for 23 March in Edinburgh's Caledonia hotel, while BDO has convened a meeting of E-Clear's creditors on the following day. It's thought that BDO will offer a menu of the possible investigative options open to creditors and crucially how much they will each cost.

A spokesman for PWC declined to comment, while a Pago spokesman could not be contacted.

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