SFO to look into missing millions at E-Clear

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The Independent Online

The Serious Fraud Office is poised to initiate a formal investigation into the collapse of E-Clear, the credit card processing firm linked to the collapse of the Scottish airline Globespan in December, after it too was forced into administration yesterday.

It is believed representatives from the SFO spoke with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been handling the administration of Globespan, after a High Court judge, Mr Justice Vos, ordered the administration of E-Clear. The SFO is also expected to contact BDO, which was appointed administrator to E-Clear yesterday.

Last night representatives of BDO and Elias Elia, the founder of E-Clear, were locked in discussions over the missing millions at the firm.

Mr Elia has consistently maintained his firm was solvent and last weekend called upon the support of the former Tory MP Sir Edward du Cann, the chairman of E-Clear's advisory board, who claimed that the firm had been the victim of appalling attacks by "companies who are not telling the full story".

Yesterday E-Clear, which is thought to owe creditors more than £80m, was forced to disclose that it was holding on to less than £100,000 in cash in its accounts. Globespan, Scotland's biggest airline before it collapsed, is believed to be owed as much as £35m by E-Clear while Canadian tour operator Sunwing could be owed a similar amount.

Last year Sunwing entered into a strategic alliance with Tui, the London-listed holiday firm, but it is believed any liabilities arising from the E-Clear collapse will not be borne by Tui.

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