Shots have been fired at the home belonging to the parents of Elias Elia, in a warning over debts unpaid by the Cypriot travel entrepreneur.
Police in Cyprus confirmed the incident, whilst some of Elia’s closest associates think that the attack was what Cypriots called a “notification”, a gangland-style reminder that a debt is overdue.
Elia’s business empire folded last month owing more than £100 million, including £35m that E-Clear had withheld from Scottish low-cost carrier Flyglobespan.
E-Clear administrators, accountancy firm BDO, said Elia’s company had “no immediate source of funds” and launched what they called an “international” hunt for assets.
According to Scotland on Sunday newspaper, his problems began long before the failure of Globespan.
Police said the Elia family home, above a post office in a suburb of Nicosia, had been attacked in February 2009 but the crime has never been solved. Elia stayed there when he was in Cyprus to look after his business interests on the island, which included a property development firm.
At the beginning of 2009, his company, on paper, was highly successful. Its last annual accounts showed that it had a turnover of £1 billion and was making a profit of more than £5m.
Friends said success had gone to the head of the once penniless Elia, who boasted of himself as the “richest man in Cyprus”.
The 39-year-old Catholic Mennonite was eager to keep up his front as a wealthy man. He spent much of his time in a rented Knightsbridge flat and his luxury offices in Berkeley Square, driving between the two in his Rolls-Royce Phantom. He also had a Ferrari, a Range Rover and a Mercedes.
But several of E-Clear’s biggest customers collapsed during the downturn, including Zoom, XL and SkyEurope.
Former business associates and employees of E-Clear are now helping BDO to trace the millions.
One well-placed employee told Scotland on Sunday that he believed an investigation should now be carried out into the way the company operated.
“It would be irresponsible not to probe,” the employee said. “It will show that E-Clear suffered huge losses as the result of two airlines that went down in 2008.”
The Serious Fraud Squad has taken an interest in the case, although it has yet to begin a formal investigation.
Scotland on Sunday asked Elia about the shooting, who said such a story was “absurd nonsense” and warned that he was considering legal action against newspapers who printed “rubbish” about him. When told the police had confirmed the incident, he said: “I am not making any comments on anything, whatever it is.”
The steel shutters at the Elia home in Nicosia were rolled down last week and nobody answered the door.