Ticketing firms paid $1.6m to resell Irish Olympics tickets

Rio ticketing inquiry says lack of co-operation from key witnesses was ‘major impediment’

The inquiry  found a long-standing relationship between former OCI  president Pat Hickey and chief executive Marcus Evans, the UK owner of THG

The inquiry found a long-standing relationship between former OCI president Pat Hickey and chief executive Marcus Evans, the UK owner of THG

 

Two ticketing companies paid $1.6 million to secure the rights to resell Irish tickets at the Olympic games, a report has found.

Mr Justice Carroll Moran’s inquiry into the Rio 2016 ticket touting controversy was published in full on Monday, but cited a lack of co-operation from a number of key witnesses as a “major impediment” to its work.

Former Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey, the OCI’s ticket reseller THG, Ireland’s ticket resellers for the Rio games Pro10, the International Olympic Committee and the Rio Organising Committee of the Olympic Games declined to assist Mr Justice Moran in his work.

The parties availed of their right against self-incrimination, the judge said, while acknowledging and respecting that position.

However, he said his findings were based only on the contributions of those who were willing or able to participate as a consequence.

His final report found THG, a British-owned ticketing firm, paid $1 million for the rights to access OCI tickets for the games in London 2012 and the winter games in Sochi 2014. Pro10 paid $600,000 for the same in Rio.

“This was done without an explanation being given at the time as to how it would recoup this sum or earn a return on such a large outlay,” Mr Justice Moran said.

Commercial interests

Mr Justice Moran said the OCI had prioritised its commercial interests over the concerns of athletes. The agreements reached with THG and Pro10 showed little concern for the athletes, their friends, relatives and supporters, or for those of the spectating public.

The inquiry was established after a senior executive at THG was arrested in Rio last year carrying tickets that came from the OCI and Pro10. Pro10 was the authorised reseller or distributor of tickets for the OCI after THG’s bid was rejected by the Rio Organising Committee.

In spite of this, the investigation found a long-standing relationship between Mr Hickey and chief executive Marcus Evans, the UK owner of THG.

Mr Justice Moran said Mr Hickey sought to conceal the relationship, which continued up until his arrest in August 2016.

His report concluded that THG remained the effective reseller at the 2016 games and Pro10 was not a genuine distributor but “its involvement disguised the continuing role of THG and Marcus Evans as the real or de facto” reseller.

Great lengths

The report says Mr Hickey strongly supported the application of THG as the ticket distributor, and found he went to “great lengths” to allay any concerns raised about the company.

“When this failed, one of the early options considered by Mr Evans and communicated to Mr Hickey was the formation of a new company to act as the ATR [authorised ticket reseller] with some contractual and/or agency relationship with the OCI and the Marcus Evans group.”

This suggestion was followed shortly after by the registration of Pro10 as a business name. The judge said the firm was not genuine, and provided an inadequate and chaotic service.

Individuals who bought tickets from THG or Pro10 could not be traced, the report said, and Mr Justice Moran said he could not put a number on how many tickets the agents sold, at what price or with what offer of hospitality.

The report also found Mr Hickey was paid €60,000 a year from 2010 to 2015 while president of the OCI, which represented some 5 per cent of the organisation’s annual income. He received €360,000 in 2015.

Marketing executive

It was paid for his “endeavours” as a marketing executive, and his efforts to get “substantial sponsorship agreements”.

Mr Justice Moran also recommends against establishing a statutory commission of investigation into the controversy.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he accepted and agreed with the position of the judge.

“It is regrettable that the parties concerned chose not to assist Judge Moran in his inquiries. I believe that if they had co-operated this report would be more complete.”

The cost of the inquiry, which began its work on September 19th, 2016, was €312,765.