Mallon lawyer flies to Rio to seek client’s release from prison
Irishman held in possession of several hundred tickets for high-profile events at Games
A picture of an ID card belonging to Kevin Mallon, a THG Sports director, displayed during a press conference at the City Police’s station in Benfica, north of Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images
A lawyer acting for the Irishman detained at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has flown from Rio to the country's capital, Brazilia to seek his immediate release from prison, The Irish Times has learned. Kevin Mallon was arrested on Friday along with a translator and has been charged with the illegal selling of tickets at the Games. With Rio’s courts closed until after the Olympics end on August 21st, Mr Mallon’s lawyer is understood to be petitioning for his immediate release before a superior court.
Identified as the Dublin finance director of UK company THG Sports, Mr Mallon was detained at a hotel near the main Olympic venue in possession of several hundred tickets for high-profile sporting events at the Games, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
Brazil’s police say he was selling them above face value which is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, although a custodial sentence is rarely imposed in such cases. A fine is the more likely outcome following a conviction.
In a statement released on Tuesday, THG said it “entirely refutes any suggestion that they or he [Mr Mallon] have acted in any way unlawfully”.
THG is part of the Marcus Evans Group, whose owner Marcus Evans controls Ipswich Town football club. The group is already being sued by a Brazilian fuel company for the equivalent of €100,000 over the irregular sale of a hospitality packages for the Games in Rio.
The buyer, Cosan Lubrificantes, says it was notified by the local organising committee that THG was not authorised to sell any packages in Brazilian territory and that any acquired from unauthorised sources would not be valid, prompting the lawsuit.
Local organisers, it is understood, took action after it became aware last year that a number of unauthorised sellers were offering hospitality packages for the Games in Brazil, where the rights were awarded to US company IMM and local partner LATAM in April last year.
Although THG has acted as an authorised ticket reseller (ATR) for previous Olympic tournaments, it is not listed as one for the event currently under way in Rio, according to a document published by organisers and dated April of this year.
Police say they are now trying to map out the origin of the tickets in Mr Mallon’s possession at the time of his arrest.
Despite not being an ATR for the Rio Games, THG said in its statement it would take “any appropriate action to stop any illegitimate attempt by the Brazilian authorities to disrupt THG’s legitimate activities”.
Brazil’s police said they arrested THG’s then chief executive James Sinton during the World Cup in 2014 for the illegal sale of tickets and hospitality packages at the tournament. He was reportedly fined and released.