News 17th August 2016

OCI refuse to investigate own role in ticketing scandal

• UPDATE: Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland and of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), has been arrested by Rio’s Polícia Civil, reports the BBC. The OCI released a statement saying that it would not comment until it has more information. 

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has refused to investigate its own role in a ticketing scandal, after hundreds of Rio 2016 tickets earmarked for the OCI ended up in the possession of men arrested by Rio’s Policia Civil. The OCI dismissed suggestions from the Irish Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, that independent personnel should be added to the OCI’s investigation in order to ascertain how hundreds of tickets earmarked for the OCI ended up in Kevin Mallon’s possession.

‘OCI President Pat Hickey and First Vice President William O’Brien had a constructive and frank discussion with Minister Ross on Sunday night’, read an OCI statement. ‘At the meeting the OCI reiterated that having obtained the advice of senior counsel it would be inappropriate and unnecessary to change the make up of the OCI investigatory panel, which has already been convened with the approval of the OCI Executive Board’.

The OCI said it would ‘not risk prejudicing the ongoing judicial process in Brazil by making any further public comment. An Irish citizen has been charged by Brazilian authorities and he is fundamentally entitled to due process and to the presumption of innocence. The OCI will be happy to make public the findings of its own investigation at the appropriate time, but not before the Brazilian legal case has been resolved. For the avoidance of doubt, the OCI is not investigating itself; it is investigating the chain of events from the appointment of Pro10 to the arrest of Mr Mallon. There remains no suggestion of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of the OCI or any of its staff.’

The OCI launched its investigation last week after Mallon, a Dublin-based Director of ticket reseller THG Sports, was detained in Brazil, as reported by The Sports Integrity Invitiative. It is understood that Mallon was in possession of and intending to sell hundreds of Rio 2016 Olympic tickets, allocated to the OCI, at inflated prices. Mallon and the THG executives are supposedly complicit in facilitating touting, conspiracy and illegal marketing. Based on these allegations, Rio’s Policia Civil issued arrest warrants due to the employees’ ‘knowledge of, and [contribution] to a scheme that involved the illegal selling of tickets at prices well above face value’, reports The Guardian.

In a 12 August statement, Pro10 Sports Management, the Irish Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR), said Mallon was holding tickets on the ground for clients of Pro 10, but said that he was not supposed to be selling tickets at above face value cost. Pro 10 explain the tickets Mallon ‘had in his possession were held on our behalf to be made available simply for collection by Irish and other European customers of Pro 10 in Rio’. As further stated they were tickets ‘made available for sale through the authorised ATR process and were sold to legitimate customers of Pro 10 at face value plus the allowed ATR reseller fee’. Pro 10 maintain their compliance with the ATR practice and regulations and continue to cooperate fully with the Brazilian authorities.

Four executives of THG Sports are facing arrest amid due to the allegations, reports the BBC. THG asserted the allegations against it are ‘entirely without foundation’, in a statement reported by RTÉ News. It said it would be ‘vigorously defending all charges that have been brought’.

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