E-Clear challenges PwC to prove liability for £35m debt

Credit-card processing firm E-Clear has challenged the administrators of Globespan to provide documentation to prove it is not liable for the £35 million it owed the operator when it failed.


After it emerged this week that administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) had started legal proceedings to recoup the money, an E-Clear spokesman has disputed the figures made public by PwC.


The accountancy firm claimed only £15 million of the £35 million could be attributed to passengers who have not travelled and are therefore likely to make a claim.


And PwC said even taking into account the potential for claims from customers who have travelled but who might claim because they were dissatisfied, the figure would be well short of £35 million.


However, an E-Clear spokesman, the third the firm has employed since the Globespan collapse two weeks before Christmas, said PwC has not produced any evidence related to the debt and that E-Clear’s prime responsibility was to customers who may make claims.


He said E-Clear had already paid out to some of the 100,000 customers who paid for flights they did not receive and it could be liable to claims from customers who had paid on credit card up to six months after the date of travel.


He added PwC must prove its liability to Globespan claims has been exorcised before it will agree to the request to pay any owed money into a joint Escrow account.


“We have told PwC to show us the records and we will talk about it. That was two weeks ago and we have heard nothing since,” the spokesman said.


“We have acted absolutely within the rules. E-Clear’s exposure is to the customer, we are regulated by Visa and Mastercard and we are following those rules. If the money is owed to Globespan or the administrators then it will be paid when it is due.


“We have acted at all times within the rules and we do not see why we should put money in an account when we have done nothing wrong.”


Travolution’s sister magazine Travel Weekly was told E-Clear’s commercial relationship with Globespan had become more difficult after the operator lost its credit insurance 18 months ago, impacting on its ability to access credit.


E-Clear said it was aware before the collapse the operator, which traded as Flyglobespan and left 4,500 people stranded abroad when it failed, was struggling financially.


The collapse has prompted Scottish politicians to demand an investigation and all eyes are now on the work PwC is doing to try to recover the cash for Globespan creditors.


PwC has not commented on its legal challenge to recoup the money from E-Clear, news of which was leaked to the BBC on Monday, and is understood to not have wanted it made public to give E-Clear more time to satisfy the administrators it has the money it is claimed it owed Globespan.


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