E-Clear boss denies responsibility for Globespan collapse

E-Clear boss Elias Elia has said discussions with PricewaterhouseCoopers over the administration of Scottish operator Globespan are proceeding well.

Although he would not comment on PwC’s request that the £35 million his credit card processing firm owed the firm to be put into a joint account, he said he was confident of a positive outcome.

“We are collaborating very well with PwC, we are getting on extremely well,” he told Travolution’s sister title travelweekly.co.uk following a second day of discussions this week.

Asked about the collapse of Allbury Travel Group last Friday, the operator that was owned by another of Elia’s companies, he said it had “surrendered its ATOL licence”.

He said the company was in a positive state financially before the collapse. “Companies do not go down in December,” he said.

And he described the decision to surrender the licence as “strategic” and “nothing to do with E-Clear” although he would not disclose what he meant by “strategic”.

Elia defended E-Clear’s position which has come under increasing scrutiny since the collapse of Globespan on Wednesday last week which prompted Scottish politicians to demand a probe into its role.

He described as “absolutely not true” suggestions that E-Clear had been responsible for the Globespan collapse.

He said: “We help a lot of companies. If E-Clear was not in existence a lot of travel companies would not be trading now.

“E-Clear stands in when a company is in severe trouble, it enables them to trade for a longer period of time. There are a lot of companies we are helping domestically, internationally and in Europe.”

E-Clear is known to be more expensive than better known credit card processing firms that also offer merchant facilities but it is prepared to take on more risky business.

However, he said in June the travel industry was becoming increasingly risky and E-Clear was looking to reduce its exposure and had changed its terms with a number of clients.

Elia denied the downturn had put a strain on E-Clear’s business model and said its failure to meet the deadline to submit last year’s results to Companies House was nothing unusual.

“Filing accounts late is no reflection on the finances of a business. We did the same thing last year and the year before. We have a strong balance sheet and we are comfortable with where we are,” he added.

Elia described XL Travel Group, which collapsed last year and for which it processed payments, as a “medium-sized failure” for his business. 

He repeated previous claims that E-Clear was facing an £11.5 million claim from the administrators of Slovak airline Sky Europe as exaggerated saying the amount in question was much smaller.

He described the amount as “normal for our business” and said E-Clear was still receiving charge backs from customers of Sky Europe.

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