Judge criticises failure of key participants to co-operate with probe

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has to date paid out €1.5m to cover the fallout from the Rio ticketing scandal, figures obtained by the Irish Examiner reveal.

Judge criticises failure of key participants to co-operate with probe

According to the figures, just over €1m has been spent on legal fees including those for ex-president Pat Hickey, arrested and charged by Brazilian authorities.

“However, a final figure will not be known until such time as legal proceedings in Brazil are concluded,” it was claimed.

A further €31,000 has been spent on accommodation, travel and subsistence and it is believed this relates primarily to Mr Hickey.

It was pointed out that some of the spend on legal fees may be recouped as there was an insurance indemnity policy in place for OCI officers.

Another €214,000 has been spent on hiring consultants Grant Thornton to produce a report into the Rio Games, while a further €84,000 has so far been spent on public relations. Another consultants firm, Deloitte, have received €18,000 for a second report into the mishandling of the Games.

The OCI has spent a further €70,000 on data protection, IT, and consultancy costs to help improve the organisation’s readiness for major games.

Meanwhile, the “failure by so many principal participants” to co-operate with the Government’s inquiry into the Rio 2016 ticket scandal has been slammed by the judge who carried out the probe.

“This failure by so many principal participants to engage with the inquiry has imposed a major impediment in the preparation of this report,” it concluded.

The report was highly critical of the governance of the OCI.

“The inquiry respects the claim of a right against self-incrimination and recognises the need to invoke this plea by a party facing serious allegations in another forum,” Judge Carroll Moran found.

“Nonetheless the invocation of this plea by the International Olympic Committee, Pro10, THG and Patrick Hickey has created a major obstacle for the inquiry.”

Significant complaints from athletes, relatives, and friends who were unable to get tickets for key events arose as a result.

The OCI’s authorised reseller, Dublin company Pro10, was appointed after its previously contracted reseller, THG, was rejected by the Rio organising committee. THG is owned by Marcus Evans Group.

Judge Carroll Moran found Mr Hickey’s relationship with THG was long standing and to the mutual benefit of THG and the OCI, the report states. The OCI was run on presidential decision-making rather than a collegiate process.

Mr Hickey retained some functions usually handled by the CEO — including fundraising and commercial contracts.

Former OCI president, Pat Hickey, outside his home in Castleknock yesterday.
Former OCI president, Pat Hickey, outside his home in Castleknock yesterday.

According to the 250-page report, Marcus Evans communicated to Mr Hickey an option of forming a new company to act as the authorised ticket reseller with some contractual and/or agency relationship with the OCI, once THG had been rejected by the IOC. Pro10 was incorporated shortly after this.

THG paid $1 million for rights to London 2012 and Sochi 2014 and Judge Moran says this was without explanation on how it would recoup the money.

He says it was difficult to see how this would be consistent with the allowed 20% premium on the quantity of tickets from the OCI.

The judge also says there was more concern with THG and Pro10 for commercial interests than the interests of athletes.

Pro10 was to get all of the OCI’s 46 family tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies and almost all athletic finals.

At least 178 family tickets were transferred from the OCI to Pro10, although these were not allowed for general sale. The OCI’s sport director told the inquiry that they were passed on to Pro10 as the OCI did not require them.

OCI president Sarah Keane said: “The reputational and financial damage done to the organisation as a result of the Rio controversy has been immense.”

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