Brazilian police have confiscated the passports of three more Irish Olympic officials and are pursuing three others, including FAI chief executive John Delaney and Pat Hickey’s successor Willie O’Brien.
Rio authorities made the dramatic decision to take the travel documentation yesterday in a bid to prevent any officials from leaving the country due to the escalating multi-million euro Olympic ticket touting scandal.
In a series of dawn hotel and OCI office raids, Rio’s civil police fraud unit confronted OCI’s chief executive Stephen Martin and executive board members Kevin Kilty and Dermot Henihan.
While none of the trio have been arrested, police took their passports, mobile phones, and laptops, in addition to a significant number of unused OCI- registered Olympics tickets, and have told them to make themselves available for questioning tomorrow.
It emerged last night that in court documents filed in Brazil, police have also said they want to take similar actions against three other OCI executive board members who had yet to be contacted.
They are Football Association of Ireland chief executive and OCI second vice-president John Delaney; acting president Willie O’Brien, who is Pat Hickey’s temporary replacement; and Mr Hickey’s personal assistant Linda O’Reilly.
The dramatic development came as the remaining members of the OCI’s 12-strong executive board held crisis talks in the group’s Dublin headquarters over the escalating Olympics scandal.
The meeting, which began just before 9pm, lasted for a number of hours last night and was expected to see questions raised over the future of the organisation’s senior officials and an imminent Government-backed inquiry into the controversy.
In a statement before the meeting began, the OCI confirmed the Brazilian police actions, and stressed that their officials will comply with any requests that will be made.
“Brazilian police arrived at the OCI offices in the Olympic village and at OCI accommodation outside of the village. They were met by OCI personnel.
“No arrests were made. The police took possession of their passports, along with their phones and laptops.
“OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday. They agreed to do so,” the statement read.
The dramatic development came as it separately emerged that Mr Hickey, who has “temporarily” stepped aside as president of the OCI, is set to appear before a Rio judge tomorrow, when he could be charged or released on bail.
Mr Hickey, 71, has been in the notorious Bangu prison alongside THG director and fellow Irishman Kevin James Mallon since his high-profile arrest last week.
He is facing charges of facilitating ticket touting, being involved in a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach confirmed the move to reporters on the final day of an Olympics that has been overshadowed by a series of corruption claims.
In a statement, Mr Hickey’s Rio-based lawyer Arthur Lavigne said his arrest last week was “under mere assumptions” and “has no legal support”.
Separately, Sports Minister Shane Ross and Attorney General Máire Whelan are expected to meet today to discuss the exact terms of reference for the Government’s 12-week inquiry into the affair, which may stretch back to the London 2012 games.
Despite Fianna Fáil claims that the non-statutory inquiry may be “a waste of time” because it does not have the power to compel witnesses or obtain documents, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday said it was the best option as a full State inquiry “may well take years”.
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