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Hospitality boss held in Rio ticket touting probe 'set to be released'

Published 27/08/2016

The arrest centred on allegations of ticket touting at the Rio Olympics
The arrest centred on allegations of ticket touting at the Rio Olympics

A sports hospitality boss arrested by police in Rio over an alleged ticket touting operation is due to be released from preventative detention, his company has said.

Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports which specialises in corporate and sports hospitality, has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair.

He was arrested after police seized Olympic tickets in a Rio hotel, some of which were part of the Irish allocation and were for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

The authorised ticket reseller contracted by the Olympic Council of Ireland is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management.

THG said it had legitimate customers for its tickets and Mr Mallon was acting as a collection agent for them in Rio, meeting clients.

THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

In a statement, THG Group said: "Following intensive efforts by our lawyers in Brazil, THG welcomes the news that our colleague Kevin Mallon is shortly to be released from preventative detention in Rio.

"In line with our previous statements on this matter, THG has welcomed the public inquiry in Ireland into these matters and believes that the company and its executives will be vindicated when all of the evidence is reviewed.

"We will continue to work to secure Kevin's full release and his return to Dublin. Meanwhile, THG is providing full support to Kevin and his family and will continue to seek to ensure their privacy at this difficult time."

Mr Mallon has been held alongside OCI president Pat Hickey, whose family this week urged the Irish government to intervene over his "degrading and humiliating" ordeal.

The 71-year-old was arrested at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area last week and Rio police said he has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law but is a preliminary step in that direction. He has always denied any wrongdoing.

Through a solicitor, Mr Hickey's family said they are extremely concerned about the manner of his arrest, his detention in the high-security Bangu prison and the impact on his health.

They also voiced worries about "pre-trial disclosure of what is purported to be evidence to the media" and Mr Hickey's "right to a fair hearing, given the prejudicial way in which he has been treated to date".

Family solicitor Anne Marie James said: "This arrest and detention occurred over seven days ago and still no charges have been brought, nor has an appropriate venue for a bail application been made available to Pat Hickey.

"The Hickey family is gravely concerned about the effect this degrading and humiliating ordeal has had on their father and grandfather and how it continues to affect his physical and mental health.

"He has a serious heart condition and they are extremely anxious that he would be immediately released on bail and given the opportunity to respond to the accusations.

"They also, as a priority, want to get him home to Ireland as they have increasing concerns about his safety."

The family are demanding Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Sports Minister Shane Ross "urgently intervene" in the case.

They are also seeking meetings with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Brazilian ambassador to Ireland Alfonso Jose Cardoso.

Mr Hickey has temporarily stepped aside from his roles as OCI president and a member of the International Olympic Committee's ruling executive board.

He was also in charge of the influential umbrella group for Europe's Olympic bodies.

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