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Travel ban for Ireland's four top Olympic officials amid tickets probe

Published 22/08/2016

Pat Hickey has stepped aside from his role as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland
Pat Hickey has stepped aside from his role as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland

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 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 said Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary general Dermot Henihan, are accused of illegally selling Olympic tickets.

The officials were not arrested but they were asked and agreed to attend police stations in Rio for questioning on Tuesday, the OCI said in a statement.

Investigators arrived at the OCI's offices in the Olympic village and its accommodation outside the village early on Sunday morning, where they met staff preparing for the closing ceremony.

Officers searching for evidence seized the devices, as well as unused tickets that were part of the 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 since this morning which 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 he underwent 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.

Hickey 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 denied any wrongdoing.

He has been moved to a high security remand prison at Rio's Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison and an application against his detention was denied by a judge, according to police in Rio.

Meanwhile, a judge in Ireland is due to be appointed this week to head an independent inquiry into the alleged ticketing scandal.

The OCI is to appoint an international accountancy firm to conduct an independent review of ticketing arrangements in Rio, with the report given to the judge.

The body said it will fully co-operate with the Irish inquiry and has set up a crisis management subcommittee to lead its response.

Dublin's Sports Minister Shane Ross returned home early from Brazil to meet Ireland's Attorney General over what could be done to get to the bottom of the controversy.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, which specialises in corporate and sports hospitality and is owned by Ipswich owner Marcus Evans, has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair.

Mallon was arrested after police seized Olympic 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.

The authorised ticket reseller (ATR) contracted by the OCI is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management.

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

THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

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