Olympic Federation of Ireland wants clarity on Hickey’s legal bill

Organisation does not know full amount paid under legal fees insurance, says president

Lack of clarity over Pat Hickey’s legal bill for the Rio ticketing controversy is one of the main problems facing the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI), the organisation has said.

Current OFI president and Mr Hickey's successor Sarah Keane confirmed on Thursday that the organisation does not know the full amount that has been paid under an OFI insurance policy for legal fees relating to her predecessor.

Mr Hickey is covered by the federation’s insurance for costs arising from the Brazilian court case, but the insurance company has refused to tell the organisation how much has been paid to him or whether payments are ongoing.

Ms Keane said the organisation knew how much had been paid for initial legal representation in Brazil, and it would have been a “substantial” amount of €440,000 that has been refunded to the organisation by its insurer so far. However, it could not say if the legal costs were continuing to mount.

“There could be more monies being paid out but we might not be aware of it,” Ms Keane said on Thursday.

The uncertainty relating to the payments is such that the federation has been forced to flag it as a risk to its ongoing activities in its 2018 accounts, published on Thursday.

According to the organisation’s accounts, it is “attempting to gain clarity from its insurers in relation to amounts paid out by them under the directors’ insurance policy in relation to Rio ATR matters. At this time we have not received a breakdown of payments made by them to former directors under the policy.”

Under directors’ insurance policies company directors are indemnified for costs relating to legal cases taken against them which arise during the course of their duties.

Ms Keane said the OFI “know(s) how much has been paid out to directors of the board, apart from our former president”.

“Because the matter with our former president is ongoing, we don’t have the full picture of that.”

Mr Hickey was charged with alleged ticket touting in Brazil, and was arrested at the start of the Rio Olympic games in August 2016. He returned to Ireland on bail pending the hearing of his case. He denies all accusations.

Ethics watchdog

Speaking at the OFI’s annual general meeting in Dublin on Thursday, Ms Keane said she believed it was “potentially likely” his case would be examined by the ethics watchdog of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“Whilst we do not know what will happen with his case in Brazil, I do think that it is potentially likely that something will happen at IOC level, presumably through the IOC ethics commission prior to the Tokyo games.”

The total cost of the Rio controversy to the organisation has risen to €1.86 million after a further €52,000 was paid in legal fees for the OFI during 2018. This is down significantly from 2017, when it spent over €350,000 on legal fees.

Ms Keane urged members to put an emphasis within their organisations on governance.

“We urge all of you to really take some time on how your organisation works bearing in mind the governance code – and to look at whether your organisation is really operating to good governance.”

The OFI recorded a surplus of €149,606 last year.

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