Pat Hickey and Marcus Evans had email, text contact - Rio police
Pair discussed arrest of Kevin Mallon, Irish finance director of THG
Rio de Janeiro police say they have found email and texting evidence of contact between Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey and Marcus Evans, the owner of controversial British ticket agency THG, which was not authorised to sell tickets for the Rio Games.
The police said Mr Hickey and Mr Evans discussed the arrest of Kevin Mallon, the Irish finance director of THG.
Mr Mallon’s arrest in Rio on August 5th and the seizure from him of tickets for the Olympics, many of which came from the OCI allocation, marked the beginning of a high-profile police investigation into alleged ticket touting.
According to police at a press conference, Mr Hickey told Mr Evans in one text message sent after Mr Mallon’s arrest: “Call me”.
Mr Hickey was arrested last Wednesday and remains in a remand prison in Rio. Three other OCI officials had their passports seized last Sunday.
No longer of interest
One of them, Dermot Henihan, met police by appointment at a station on Tuesday, after which a spokesman said he was no longer a person of interest in their inquiries. The spokesman said police would recommend to a judge that his passport be returned to him.
The other two other OCI officials, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin, were granted an extension of time following a change of legal representation. After their new lawyers asked for more time to study the case, they were told to appear at the same police station on Thursday.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Rio police also released emails between Mr Hickey and Mr Evans dated August 3rd, two days before the Olympics opening ceremony in Rio. In one Mr Hickey wrote: “I can confirm to you now that I do not require any of the opening or closing ceremony tickets that was part of our NOC [National Olympic Committee] allocation. You can use them all. Best regards. Pat.”
The OCI originally wanted THG to be its authorised ticket vendor at the Games, but the company was rejected by the Rio organisers last year. The organisers said that as a result, THG was not authorised to sell tickets or hospitality packages for the Games, either in Brazil or abroad. Another company, Pro10, was subsequently appointed as the OCI’s ticket vendor.
In one email, Mr Evans told Mr Hickey he had “more than I need as well, so all we can do is put back on portal for hopeful resell”.
Mr Hickey identified in a third message the source of the tickets he was passing to Mr Evans. “We have tickets left that Pro 10 don’t want so before we get rid of them have you any use for them?” the email released by police stated.
Mr Hickey’s computers and mobile phones were seized last week when he was arrested at the International Olympic Committee’s hotel.
“The analysis of the emails confirms that the president of the Irish Olympic committee Patrick Hickey was in direct contact with Marcus Evans,” said investigator Ricardo Barbosa, who described Mr Evans as “the great organiser of this criminal scheme”.
Money laundering unit
Police said a specialised money laundering unit is now assisting them with the investigation.
THG has claimed Mr Mallon was merely acting as a “collection point” for people who bought tickets from Pro10.
Police said they had found messages on Mr Hickey’s devices discussing how to co-ordinate the responses of THG and Pro10 to Mr Mallon’s arrest.
Detective Aloysio Falcão said after the press conference that investigators would be asking the Irish Government to look into any potential involvement by Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney in the ticketing affair.
A judge issued a warrant last Sunday authorising the seizing of the passports of six people associated with the OCI, including Mr Delaney, who is its vice-president. However, Mr Delaney had not travelled to Rio for the Games.