OCI officials tell Rio police Pat Hickey was the 'big leader' of ticketing operation

Olympic Council of Ireland officials Kevin Kilty, left, and Stephen Martin, arrive at police headquarters in Rio.

UPDATE 11.15pm: Patrick Hickey was the “big leader” of the OCI’s ticketing operation, police in Brazil were told in interviews today with two OCI officials, a top detective said last night.

Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin told police that Hickey, arrested by police last week, was in charge of decisions about Olympic tickets at the OCI.

“But we don’t know what that means,” he added.

The pair now being treated as witnesses and not suspects. “Tomorrow we will consider a petition to the court to return their passports” detective Ronaldo Oliveira said. “There is a very good chance of this.”

A third official who was questioned on Tuesday, Dermot Henihan, is likely to see his passport returned as well, he said.

“Their testimony was very good and fitted with what we already know,” he added. “But we now have to confirm various details before we can release more details.

“The evidence will now be analysed.”

“This deposition was very important,” he said, adding that further arrests were possible.

Evening report: OCI officials Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin left Rio police headquarters just before 10.30pm Irish time after more than four hours of questioning as part of the touting probe that has engulfed the OCI, including president Pat Hickey.

Mr Hickey is now spending his second week in jail.

However, it is believed police are satisfied that Mr Kilty and Mr Martin had no role in the alleged touting. Police said the two men co-operated fully with questioning and a judge will decide on the return of their passports

On entering the civil police headquarters with two lawyers by their side last night, Mr Kilty said: “We are here to co-operate.”

Yesterday, the case against Kevin James Mallon, the Irishman who was the first arrested on August 5 accused of illegally selling 823 Olympic tickets for up to 18 times face value on behalf of his company THG Sports, was opened at a special Olympic court in Rio de Janeiro.

Also listed as defendants are his translator Barbara Zancope Carnieri and THG Sports directors, Marcus Paul Bruce Evans, aged 52, David Patrick Gilmore, aged 35, Martin Studd, aged 49 and Martin van Os, aged 45.

Police passed the case to the court, who have now passed it to the public prosecutors office, who will have 15 days to consider the case, court documents said.

“The case is being sent to us today,” said a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Rio. “It will now need to be examined by the prosecutor.”

Kevin James Mallon
Kevin James Mallon

Mr Hickey’s case, and that of the directors of Pro 10 Sports Management, the firm with the rights to sell Rio tickets in Ireland, has not yet been sent to the court.

Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon are sharing a cell at the notorious Bangu 10 prison. Mr Hickey has not received any visitors other than Irish officials as visitors must wait 30 days for a permit and his wife has already left Brazil.

Inmates in the jail are sometimes so hungry they resort to eating wet toilet paper, a report by public defenders found last year.

Neither Mr Hickey’s lawyers, a judicial spokesman, nor police would comment on any proceedings to secure his release while investigations continue.

Another OCI official, Dermot Henihan was interviewed by police on Tuesday.

Police are still keen to speak to OCI vice-president John Delaney, acting president William O’Brien and Hickey’s personal assistant Linda O’Reilly. But those individuals left Brazil before police tried to seize their passports on Sunday.

Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon, an executive of ticketing firm THG Sports, remain the primary suspects in the €3m investigation, in which police allege the Olympic tickets with a face value of €380 were being sold for up to €7,000.

OCI official Dermot Henihan
OCI official Dermot Henihan

One of the defendants named in the court papers is Marcus Evans, the owner of THG. Police this week released a chain of emails between Hickey and Evans, that showed the pair discussing Olympic tickets from the OCI allocation.

Police say the emails show illegal activity, as THG Sports were not an authorised reseller of Olympic tickets. The firm had the rights for the 2012 and 2014 Games, but not 2016.

In an email on August 3, Hickey wrote to Evans: “I can confirm to you now that I do not require any of the opening or closing ceremony tickets that was part of our NOC allocation. You can use them all.”

Detective Ricardo Barboza de Souza said: “The OCI was the facilitator of these tickets finding their way to THG. The link between the two men is very clear to us.”

OCI officials tell Rio police Pat Hickey was the 'big leader' of ticketing operation

Police also found 30 opening ceremony tickets in the possession of THG that were meant for the Irish “Olympic family” and not to be resold at all, detective Aloysio Falcão said.

On Sunday, police raided the offices of the OCI at the Olympic Village and the Windsor Marapendi Hotel where officials were staying, on Sunday. They found 228 extra tickets there, which Mr Kilty told them were meant for athletes, they said.

Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon face charges of facilitating touting, which carries a sentence of two to four years, forming a criminal cartel, which has a sentence of between one and three, and illicit marketing, with a sentence of up to one year.

Also sought are three directors of the OCI’s official reseller Pro 10, Michael Glynn, Ken Murray, and Eamonn Collins, who are accused of allowing its tickets to be diverted to THG Sports.

Mr Hickey was arrested on August 17 and Mallon on August 5. Police have 30 days to complete investigations into Mr Hickey.

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