OCI sports director Martin Burke named in Rio tickets inquiry

Prosecutor says Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon could receive terms of 8-10 years if convicted

Police in Rio de Janeiro have named Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) sports director Martin Burke as a new suspect in the investigation into the ticketing scandal at the Rio Games last month.

Detective Ricardo Barbosa said police wanted to speak to him after an external drive seized in a search of the OCI's offices at the Games on August 21st revealed a file titled "THG Additional Tickets".

Investigators said they understood the hard drive was the responsibility of Mr Burke, adding that it was up to a public prosecutor to decide whether to press charges against him.

The OCI had nominated British company THG as its authorised ticket vendor for the Games but the application was rejected by organisers.


But on August 5th THG's Dublin finance director Kevin Mallon was arrested in Rio by police in possession of several hundred OCI tickets and charged with ticket touting.

Charges were levelled this week by a public prosecutor against OCI president Patrick Hickey, Mr Mallon and eight others. The charges include ticket touting, false advertising, fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and criminal association.

The prosecutor Marcos Kac said Thursday the accused could receive sentences of between eight and 10 years if convicted.

Mr Barbosa revised down the number of OCI tickets in Mr Mallon’s possession from 823 to 269 tickets destined for general sale and another 40 tickets that were for the exclusive use of the OCI delegation in Rio.

The remaining tickets seized with Mr Mallon came from a variety of countries including Guatemala, Paraguay, Slovenia, Lithuania and Greece among others. Investigators say that these tickets were meant to have been sold by Cartan, a US company that was the official ticket vendor for 36 countries at the Rio Games.

At a press conference yesterday, police accused Cartan of collaborating with THG, which was not authorised to sell tickets or ticketed hospitality, at the Rio Games.

Rio's police also said they want to speak to the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach about a text message he received from Mr Hickey demanding more tickets for high profile Olympic events for the OCI.

“It might be nothing but we want to talk to everyone whose name comes up in the investigation and his name came up in the text message Mr Hickey sent him about tickets,” said detective Barbosa.

Police say that Mr Bach is only considered a witness in the investigation.

Mr Bach failed to attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday night in Rio. It is the first time the IOC president has missed the event since it started to be held in the same city as the Summer Games with Seoul in 1988.

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South America