2016 Summer Olympics ticket scandal

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On 5 August, the day of the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, police in Rio de Janeiro arrested two people for attempted illegal resale of hundreds of tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). The scandal precipitated the dramatic arrest of OCI president Pat Hickey, while in a hotel room assigned to his son. Hickey immediately resigned, as well as relinquishing his membership of the International Olympic Committee, his role as president of the European Olympic Committees and his role as vice-president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Others implicated in the scandal include Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney, who is also OCI vice-president and a prominent figure in Irish sport, as well as Team Ireland Chef de Mission Kevin Kilty and Hickey's replacement as OCI president, Willie O'Brien.

First arrests[edit]

On 5 August, the day of the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, police in Rio de Janeiro arrested two people for attempted illegal resale of hundreds of tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). One of the two, Kevin Mallon, was an executive with THG Sports, which was the OCI's authorised ticket reseller (ATR) in 2012 but not 2016; the OCI denied any involvement.[1] Pro 10 Sports Management, the OCI's 2016 ATR, said the man arrested was working as their agent to distribute tickets which had been paid for legitimately.[2]

Arrest of Hickey[edit]

On 17 August, Pat Hickey, the OCI president, was arrested in Rio in connection with the investigation.[3] A Brazilian judge remanded him in custody after concluding Hickey was a flight risk, and citing previous experience of then THG CEO James Sinton being investigated in relation to a 2014 FIFA World Cup ticket scam, being granted bail, leaving Brazil and never returning to face justice.[1][4] Hickey was charged with three crimes.[5] On 18 August, Hickey resigned as President of the OCI and that role passed to Willie O'Brien; Hickey also resigned his membership of the International Olympic Committee, his role as president of the European Olympic Committees and his role as vice-president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.[5] At a news conference that afternoon, police presented Hickey's passport, Olympic credentials and air ticket to the world's media and explained that Rio's Civil Police Fraud Unit had arrested Hickey at about 6 a.m. (10 a.m. in Ireland). Having initially been told by his wife that her husband had returned to Ireland, Hickey was discovered in a separate hotel room assigned to his son and taken into custody.[citation needed] He was later photographed being wheeled from a hospital after complaining about his health and being given the all-clear by medical staff.[6] On 20 August, Hickey and Mallon were reported to be sharing a prison cell.[4] The same day, Brazilian police were reported to be investigating bank accounts linked to Hickey and others, stated their belief that a "relationship" exists between Hickey and English businessman Marcus Evans (owner of THG Sports) and told of an attempt being made to profit by millions of euro. Meanwhile, former Irish sports minister Leo Varadkar revealed Hickey tried to get financial assistance from Ireland's government for his son's corporate hospitality venue at London's 2012 Summer Olympics.[7]

On August 24, 2016, Rio Police presented details of emails between Marcus Evans of THG and Hickey discussing the sale of tickets for the 2016 Rio Olympics. [8]

Charges and suspension of case[edit]

Hickey was due to face trial in Brazil over his alleged role in the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ticketing affair after a Rio de Janeiro judge accepted the charges made by a public prosecutor against him and nine others. Public prosecutor Marcos Kac charged Hickey and nine others with ticket-touting, ambush marketing, theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association. [9] Hickey was allowed his passport back in November 2016 for a bond payment of 410,000 Euros. The month after The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) loaned the money to Hickey so he could go back to Ireland.[10] But in November 2017, the Brazilian Supreme Court suspended the case against Hickey and the other accused, all of whom deny any wrongdoing, in order to examine the merits of the prosecution case and of the Habeas Corpus request by lawyers for one of his co-accused, Kevin Mallon of THG Sports, after the lawyers had argued that they could not mount a proper defence as the prosecution had presented no evidence, and "nor was there clarity on his alleged involvement in any crime".[11] It was not known how long this would take,[11] and this was still unclear in June 2019 when Olympic Federation of Ireland President Sarah Keane expressed the hope that the International Olympic Committee's Ethics Commission would conclude its own investigation of the case before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.[12] In the meantime Hickey and others had been criticised for lack of cooperation by the subsequent Moran inquiry into the matter.[13]

Role of Shane Ross[edit]

Before Hickey's arrest, Irish Minister for Sport Shane Ross promised a "robust inquiry" of his own, after expressing concern at the lack of an independent investigation.[14] On 14 August, Ross flew to Rio de Janeiro to meet with Hickey.[15] He did so twice, "in tense circumstances" shortly before Hickey's arrest. Ross attempted to have Hickey permit an independent member be included on the OCI's inquiry. Following Hickey's arrest, Ross flew back in Dublin to meet Attorney General Máire Whelan. Meanwhile, Brazilian police revealed an email they found on Hickey's phone calling for Ross to be "put back into his box".[16]

John Delaney, et al.[edit]

On 21 August, Brazilian police conducted an early morning raid at the Irish office in the Olympic village. They confiscated the passports of three OCI members; Team Ireland Chef de Mission Kevin Kilty, Dermot Henihen and OCI chief executive Stephen Martin. They also confiscated electronic equipment and unused Olympic tickets. The other names on the warrant included OCI officials Linda O'Reilly and Willie O'Brien, the man who had earlier replaced Hickey as president.[17]

Brazilian police were also given permission to seize a sixth passport, that of Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney, who is also OCI vice-president and a prominent figure in Irish sport.[17][18]

Investigations[edit]

Non-statutory inquiry[edit]

A non-statutory inquiry headed by retired High Court judge, Mr Justice Carroll Moran, to investigate the issue was announced on 24 August.[19]

OCI review[edit]

On 25 August, the OCI announced data security firm Espion to secure, copy and seal the OCI server and all OCI electronic data.[20] The following day, the OCI announced it had appointed auditors Grant Thornton to conduct its own review of the issue.[21]

On 9 September the OCI announced, that it had chosen Deloitte to review the manner in which the OCI is governed under its current constitution.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sandy, Matt (9 August 2016). "Face of Irish executive arrested over alleged sale of €3m official tickets at Rio Olympics". Irish Independent.
  2. ^ "Pro 10: Mallon distributing tickets on its behalf". RTÉ.ie. 12 August 2016.
  3. ^ Doyle, Kevin (17 August 2016). "President of Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey 'taken to hospital' following arrest". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Hickey sharing prison cell with Mallon in Brazil". RTÉ.ie. 21 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Pat Hickey steps aside as OCI president after Rio arrest". RTÉ.ie. 18 August 2016.
  6. ^ Hosford, Paul (18 August 2016). "Pat Hickey taken from Rio hospital in a wheelchair". TheJournal.ie.
  7. ^ McMahon, Cathal; Sheehan, Maeve; Ryan, Philip (21 August 2016). "Police in Brazil hunt for Pat Hickey's money". Sunday Independent.
  8. ^ {http://www.thejournal.ie/oci-tickets-rio-police-2942881-Aug2016/ Rio police publish emails between Pat Hickey and THG discussing sale of Ireland's Olympics tickets
  9. ^ "Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon to face trial in Rio ticket controversy". 10 September 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Hickey reportedly loaned money for bail payment". RTE News. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  11. ^ a b O'Riordan, Ian; O'Sullivan, Sarah (11 November 2017). "Pat Hickey trial over Olympic Games ticket touting suspended". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 June 2019. Lawyers representing Mr Mallon secured the injunction after claiming they were unable to build their client’s defence, as no evidence was offered, nor was there clarity on his alleged involvement in any crime.
  12. ^ O'Brien, Brendan (13 June 2019). "Irish Olympic boss hopeful that IOC will conclude Hickey investigation before Tokyo 2020". BreakingNews.ie. Retrieved 14 June 2019. 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 International Olympic Committee level, presumably through the IOC Ethics Commission, prior to the Tokyo Games.
  13. ^ "Rio Olympics ticketing controversy probe cost the State over €300k". TheJournal.ie. 9 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2019. Pat Hickey and other key figures were criticised for not cooperating with Rio ticketing probe.
  14. ^ Clarke, Vivienne (12 August 2016). "Ross to carry out 'robust inquiry' into Olympic tickets". The Irish Times.
  15. ^ Finn, Christina (14 August 2016). "Shane Ross is on his way to Rio to get answers over the Olympics ticket scandal". TheJournal.ie.
  16. ^ Hosford, Paul; Brophy, Daragh (18 August 2016). "OCI wouldn't be first to try and put me back in my box, says Ross". TheJournal.ie.
  17. ^ a b Bailey, Ryan (22 August 2016). "Brazilian judge issues warrant for passport of John Delaney and five other OCI officials". The42.ie.
  18. ^ McMahon, Cathal; Phelan, Shane (22 August 2016). "Brazil judge issues warrant for passports of John Delaney and five other OCI officials". Irish Independent.
  19. ^ "Retired judge Mr Justice Carroll Moran to lead Olympic tickets inquiry". Examiner.ie. 24 August 2016.
  20. ^ "OCI appoints firm to secure electronic data as retired judge set to lead ticket inquiry". RTÉ.ie. 25 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Grant Thornton to carry out OCI ticketing review". RTÉ.ie. 26 August 2016.
  22. ^ http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/oci-appoints-finance-firm-deloitte-to-examine-governance-arrangements-35036959.html

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