Police in Rio have said testimony from two Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) officials indicated that president Patrick Hickey was in charge of the organisation's ticketing.
Police chief Ronaldo de Oliviera, said testimony from OCI's Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin, who were interviewed by police on Thursday and are witnesses but not suspects in the investigation, "ratifies what we already have."
“They confirmed the role of Patrick Hickey as the big chief of this gang. This was very important. That all the actions were carried out by him,” he said.
Asked if the two men had accused Mr Hickey of criminal behaviour, Mr de Oliveira clarified his remarks.
“No, in charge of operations involving tickets. The police are working to prove that he [PAT HICKEY]carried out criminal acts.”
The OCI and Mr Hickey have repeatedly denied wrongdoing in this controversy.
Mr Kilty, the OCI team leader, and Mr Martin, the organisation’s chief executive, left a police station after four hours of questioning in connection with the investigation into the alleged ticket touting controversy at the Rio Games.
Police have said there is a “great chance” that their passports, which were seized on Sunday in an operation that also recovered 228 unused tickets from Ireland’s allocation for the Games, will be returned to them.
Speaking after being questioned, Mr Kilty said “We are very happy to have co-operated.”
The court warrant ordering the seizure of the passports of Mr Kilty, Mr Martin and a third OCI official Dermot Henihan, who was questioned on Tuesday before police said they were satisfied that he had no involvement in the alleged touting scheme, was based on testimony given by Mr Hickey on Thursday of last week, the day after his arrest.
According to the warrant, Mr Hickey told investigators that it was a decision by the entire 12-member OCI board to nominate THG as its official ticket vendor for the Rio Olympics.
But Mr de Oliveira said testimony from Mr Kilty and Mr Martin indicated that it was Mr Hickey who was in charge of the OCI’s ticketing.
Meanwhile, the Irish man whose arrest sparked the affair had his case assigned to a court. A document published on Rio's judicial system's website said Kevin Mallon's case will be handled by Rio's special court for supporters and large events – which was set up in the city to handle legal matters arising from its staging of the World Cup and Olympic Games.
Mr Mallon, an employee of sports hospitality company THG, was arrested, along with a colleague, on August 5th at a hospitality event ahead of the opening ceremony of the Rio Games in possession of 823 tickets from the OCI’s ticket allocation. Since his arrest, Mr Mallon has been held in a remand prison in Rio by order of a judge from the same court who will now hear his case.
His lawyer Franklin Gomes has already questioned the court’s competency to oversee the case, claiming judicial overreach. Mr Mallon is facing charges relating to ticket touting, as well as a charge of criminal association, according to the court document.
Also charged with Mr Mallon is Marcus Evans, the British businessman who owns THG. Four other THG employees are also charged, including a second Irish man David Gilmore as well as Barbara Carnieri, the THG colleague arrested with Mr Mallon but subsequently released.
On Tuesday, police released emails between Mr Evans and Pat Hickey, who has temporarily stepped down as president of the OCI, which appear to discuss passing OCI tickets for the Games to THG.
The OCI had nominated THG to be its official ticket vendor for the Games but that application was rejected by organisers, meaning THG was not authorised to sell tickets or hospitality packages for the event within Brazil or abroad.
Police arrested Mr Hickey on Wednesday of last week and he is sharing a prison cell with Mr Mallon.
A police file on Mr Hickey’s case was due to be sent to a public prosecutor yesterday. Once sent, the prosecutor has five days to formally charge Mr Hickey. Once charged, a judge can decide to throw out the case, or, accepting it, to release Mr Hickey until the case is resolved.
Investigators say Mr Hickey’s lawyers surrendered a second passport belonging to him and, as they now have both, they would not object if a judge ordered his release from prison while the case proceeds.
Political gain accusation
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan has accussed the Opposition of trying to make political gains out of the Olympic tickets controversy.
Retired High Court judge Mr Justice Carroll Moran is leading the Government’s inquiry into the matter and has been given 12 weeks to complete his report.
Speaking on Limerick’s 95FM, the Limerick County TD said he is satisfied that Mr Justice Moran has been given adequate time but said he will allocate more time if necessary.
Mr Justice Moran was the assigned Circuit Court judge in Limerick from 2002 until 2014.