Brazilian police say they expect to name at least one more Irish person as involved in the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ticketing affair at the Rio Olympics.
Detective Aloysio Falcão, one of the lead investigators in the case, made the revelation after OCI head Pat Hickey was questioned at a police station in northern Rio de Janeiro yesterday afternoon.
“[Mr Hickey] maintained his silence,” Mr Falcão told the media after the interview ended. “We put 14 questions to him, but he did not respond. We asked him questions about his involvement, and that of new actors. He did not want to respond to these questions.”
The detective said new names, including at least one Irish person, will be released tomorrow, as well as details of new alleged crimes that were not included in the first phase of the investigation.
Mr Falcão said the new developments were based on “material that was apprehended: notebooks, laptops, and cell phones”. “We are now entering into a new stage in the inquiry,” he said, adding Mr Hickey’s decision to remain silent did not affect the police investigation as as “we have lots of evidence”.
Mr Hickey and Dublin finance director of UK sports hospitality company THG Sports Kevin Mallon were formally charged yesterday by a public prosecutor over their alleged roles in the affair.
Rio de Janeiro public prosecutor Marcos Kac signed the indictment yesterday morning after reviewing the police investigation. The charges include supplying tickets for the purpose of touting, false advertising, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
Also charged are several other THG employees, including its owner Marcus Evans, as well as the three directors of Pro10, the Dublin company that acted as the OCI's official ticket vendor for Rio. The accused are also charged with criminal association.
Confirming the indictment, Mr Kac described Mr Hickey and Mr Evans as “the heads of this organisation”, which he claims sold tickets through THG at above face value – despite the latter’s request to be the OCI’s vendor being rejected by Rio’s organisers.
Only Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon are understood to be in Brazil. Mr Hickey, Mr Mallon, THG and Pro10 all deny any wrongdoing.
‘Right to silence’
Mr Hickey, who has stepped aside as president of the OCI, declined to speak to waiting media on entering and leaving the police station with his lawyer.
A family statement released in Dublin said: "He [Hickey] will be invoking his constitutional right to silence because the Brazilian police have released documents to the media that Pat's lawyers have had no access to."
This follows Mr Mallon’s decision to remain silent at his own questioning on Monday at the same station, apart from reading a pre-prepared statement. In Dublin, a Pro10 statement released yesterday stated: “We will vigorously defend our reputation and we will fully challenge the very basis of these charges.”
Mr Kac said his indictment had been lodged at the special Rio court for sports supporters and large events. A judge will now review the charges before deciding whether to proceed with the case or throw it out. “There is no deadline for this but I expect it will happen in days and within a month I expect there will be a hearing.”
Asked how long it would take the court to reach a verdict, should it accept the case, the prosecutor said this would largely depend on the stance of the defence.
“For a case to proceed, it also depends on the collaboration of the accused. When the defendant is in custody cases happen more quickly. When the defendant is at liberty, they take longer,” he said.
Mr Mallon and Mr Hickey were released from prison following their arrests during the Games after their lawyers secured habeas corpus writs.
Authorities in Brazil have retained their passports in order to prevent them leaving Brazil. Mr Kac said if the court decides to proceed with the case the two men could have their passports returned to them for the duration. “It is a possibility, but not a certainty,” he said.