The administrator of Globespan has started legal proceedings against credit card processing firm E-Clear to force it to disclose whether it has the £35m of customer payments it withheld from the Scottish operator.
For legal reasons PricewaterhouseCoopers has not officially confirmed it has started legal proceedings, but Travolution understand reports of the move to get a winding up order are accurate.
PwC accountants accept the need for E-Clear to withhold some Globespan money for potential chargebacks from dissatisfied customers who have already travelled, but they believe £35 million was “excessive”.
Sources close to the negotiations between E-Clear and PwC said not only has E-Clear refused to place the £35 million in a joint account, it has still to prove it has the money.
PwC was keen for its legal challenge to remain confidential to avoid the appearance of a vendetta against E-Clear, but its attempts to get answers out of E-Clear have been thwarted.
One source said: “It should be fairly easy for E-Clear to put PwC’s mind at rest but the longer this goes on the more concern there will be.”
It was estimated that the potential exposure to E-Clear from Globespan customers who had not travelled yet was around £15 million, well short of the £35 million it has held back.
In a statement on the ongoing discussions with E-Clear released on Monday joint administrator at PwC Ian Oakley-Smith said:
“In the period since we were appointed administrators of Globespan, we have repeatedly asked E-Clear to confirm the level of funds they hold that have been received from Globespan customers.
“Globespan records indicate that some £35 million is being held – but no details to support the funds have been provided by E-Clear.”
“Before Christmas, the administrators requested the funds be placed into a joint account and this request has so far been refused.”
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly before Christmas, E-Clear chief executive Elias Elia claimed talks with PwC were progressing well and he was confident of a positive outcome.
He denied E-Clear caused the Globespan collapse by holding on to its money, an allegation made by Scottish politicians who have demanded an inquiry.