Irish in ticketing probe held in Brazil

Officials deny wrongdoing as Rio police seize passports of those implicated in alleged touting

RIO DE JANEIRO • Ireland's top four Olympic officials have been barred from leaving Brazil as police expanded their investigation into the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the Rio Games.

Three Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) officials had their passports, phones and laptops seized by Brazilian police as the Games wrapped up on Sunday, following the earlier arrest of president Pat Hickey.

Rio police named Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary-general Dermot Henihan as the ones accused of illegally selling tickets.

The officials were not arrested but they agreed to assist police in Rio, the OCI said in a statement.

Police arrived at OCI's offices in the Olympic village to seize the devices and unused tickets which were part of OCI's allocation for athletes' families.

A Rio police official said: "We are continuing the investigation into the international scheme of ticket scalping. Agents are conducting investigations this morning and will continue until Tuesday."

Hickey, 71, was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Wednesday and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pain before undergoing cardiac tests.

After being discharged he was taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation. He has stepped aside from his role as president of the OCI.

Police allege Hickey is implicated in a scam involving Ireland's official Games ticket reseller, Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management, and an international sports hospitality company, THG Sports.

They accuse PRO10 of funnelling tickets to THG Sports, which sold them illegally at inflated prices.

Hickey, who has denied any wrongdoing, has been moved to a high-security remand prison at Rio's Gericino penitentiary complex. An application against his detention was rejected by a judge.

A Brazilian judge also ordered the seizure of the passport of stand-in OCI president Willie O'Brien, senior vice-president John Delaney and an OCI personal assistant.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, has been in custody in Brazil since Aug 5 over the affair. He was arrested after police seized tickets in a Rio hotel, some of which were part of the Irish allocation and some for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

PRO10 Sports Management said it had legitimate customers for its tickets and Mallon was acting as a collection agent for them in Rio.

THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2016, with the headline 'Irish in ticketing probe held in Brazil'. Print Edition | Subscribe