OCI sports director named by Brazilian police as suspect in Olympic ticketing probe

Police in Brazil have named Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) sports director Martin Burke as a new suspect in their ticket touting probe.

A hard drive seized from the OCI’s office in Rio was his responsibility and contained a file named ‘THG additional tickets’, said detective Ricardo Barboza de Souza. THG Sports is the British hospitality firm at the centre of the scandal.

OCI president Pat Hickey, 71, and THG Sports executive Kevin James Mallon, 36, have already been charged by prosecutors in Brazil.

Last night, police said they needed to interview International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach as a witness after his name appeared several times in emails discovered during the inquiry.

Ronaldo Oliveira, the head of specialised operations at the Civil Police, said: “We are interested in talking to Thomas Bach, he has already been cited several times. He could very much help clarify the work of the Civil Police to settle some doubts because he was mentioned in several emails. It is important that we can interview him, and various other people.

“Thomas Bach would be interviewed as a witness. It is important we can do that.”

Detectives confirmed that Hickey sent a text message to Bach requesting hundreds more Rio 2016 tickets for the OCI. Mr Hickey received 296 more tickets after the message, but police say they have not found a response by Bach to the message.

Ricardo Barboza de Souza, the detective leading the investigation said: “The seized mobile phones and tablets, and the analysis of their contents, have brought very important data to the police.

“We have the company THG that did not hold authorisation to conduct the sale of tickets for Rio 2016. That company had three sources of tickets: the company Pro 10, the Olympic Council of Ireland, and a company called Cartan.

“So there were two companies who did have authorisation and they illegally passed tickets to THG, so they sell the tickets at a higher price under the cover of a hospitality scheme.

“We have collected a vast amount of material, we have email exchanges between the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland and Marcus Evans [the owner of THG Sports]. They spoke very clearly about the sale of tickets and their concern about the police action.

“Police believe that Pro10 was created in order to transfer tickets to the THG company. It was to facilitate THG’s access to tickets.

“The message exchanges between the president of the committee and Marcus Evans dating to 2010. It shows a very close bond between them, beyond the commercial.”

The police presented documents during the press conference which they said demonstrated the links between THG Sports and Cartan.

“THG purchased 177 tickets from Cartan worth US $53,000,” said detective Aloysio Falcão, citing the documents.

“[Another document] shows how many packages were sold: 1051 by THG. One victim paid $79,500, another $206,000.

“And here we have an email from the director of Cartan, Greg Harney, to Patrick Hickey, saying he had closed a deal with Marcus Evans and was in contact with an employee of THG, Kevin Mallon. So Patrick Hickey knew of Kevin Mallon, he knew of the whole scheme done by Cartan.

“When Kevin Mallon was arrested, Greg [Harney] sent an email to Patrick [Hickey] on August 7. Greg Harney and Patrick Hickey had numerous telephone contacts.”

Yet another document presented was the contract between Pro 10 and the OCI, signed by Mr Hickey.

“This proves that the Hickey knew of the scheme, that he was the mastermind of the entire criminal scheme, the Irish committee,” said Mr Falcão.

A spokesman for Pro10 said that the firm signed had a contract for tickets with the OCI and not with Mr Hickey.

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