Belfast Telegraph

No evidence linking former Olympics boss Hickey to ticket touting: inquiry

By Kevin Doyle

A judge-led inquiry in the Republic into the Olympic ticketing scandal has failed to find any evidence of criminal activity or financial impropriety on the part of former Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) boss Pat Hickey.

A report to be published in the coming days is hugely critical of Mr Hickey for his governance of the organisation, it can be revealed.

But it falls short of identifying any money trail that would suggest Mr Hickey was involved in ticket touting.

OCI chief executive Stephen Martin, who is from Co Down, was one of three Irish officials to have their passports, phones and laptops seized by police in Rio as part of the probe into alleged illegal ticket sales.

However, his passport was later handed back and there is no suggestion the Bangor man - who has since been appointed as Team Ireland's chef de mission for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea - was guilty of any wrongdoing.

In his final report into Mr Hickey, Judge Carroll Moran repeatedly lamented that his investigation was severely hampered by a lack of co-operation from key players including Mr Hickey and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The Rio Organising Committee, which oversaw the 2016 Games in Brazil, did not even respond to correspondence from the inquiry.

Mr Justice Moran says there may be "information significant to issues herein of which the inquiry is unaware by reason of the silence of the parties not participating".

However, he recommends against the setting up of a commission of investigation with powers to compel witnesses for a variety of reasons, including the potential cost to the State.

Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross will publicly release the report next week - almost a year since he announced the non-statutory inquiry's establishment. It was initially to finalise its work within 12 weeks.

Mr Justice Moran's terms of reference asked him to establish the "policies, procedures, processes and practices" of ticket distribution by the OCI in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the London Games in 2012 and the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

It followed the confiscation of hundreds of Irish tickets for last year's Olympics which Brazilian police believe were destined for sale on the black market.

Their probe led to the dramatic arrest of Mr Hickey who was charged with ticket-touting offences that could result in a jail term of up to seven years. The 72-year-old was allowed to return home on bail, but could have to return to Brazil to face trial.

During the course of his work Mr Justice Moran brought in forensic lawyers to review the OCI's accountancy practices. The report did not find any mismanagement of funds.

Mr Hickey's lawyers have warned Mr Ross that publication of the report could prejudice his right to a fair trial in Brazil. This has been dismissed by the Attorney General's office. Government sources indicated they expected Mr Hickey to seek an injunction but with the report's publication imminent, the ex-OCI president has not lodged any High Court papers.

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