Thursday 8 December 2016

Brazilian police call on Interpol to help investigate 'ticket tout' scandal

Matt Sandy

Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30

Kevin James Mallon was arrested in Rio Photo: AFP
Kevin James Mallon was arrested in Rio Photo: AFP

The Brazilian authorities have stepped up their investigation into the Irish 'ticket touting' scandal by calling on Interpol.

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A judge in Brazil has ordered the preventative detention of British millionaire and Ipswich Town FC owner Marcus Evans along with three other directors of his firm THG Sports over an Olympic touting scandal.

Rio de Janeiro's Civil Police will request the help of Interpol to find Mr Evans (52) along with Irishman David Patrick Gilmour (35), Brit Martin Studd (49) and Dutchman Martin van Os (45).

On August 5 police arrested another THG director, Dubliner Kevin James Mallon, in Rio. The five are being investigated for an alleged €2.8m scam to sell prized tickets to Rio 2016 at up to four times face value.

Mr Evans, who is said to be worth £765m (€881m) and owns Ipswich Town FC, was a key figure in the scheme. Police said Mr Mallon had Mr Evans's mobile number saved on his phone as 'Paul Bruce' (his middle names) and spoke to him regularly. The detective leading the probe for Rio de Janeiro's Civil Police, Ricardo Barboza de Souza, said: "This is a scheme THG has been operating for nearly 10 years, to sell tickets illegally at astronomically high prices under the cover of a hospitality scheme."

Police say they believe the strategy goes back to the Rugby World Cup in 2007. Mr Mallon was arrested at a hotel in Barra da Tijuca, near the Olympic Park. Police say they have statements from seven Brazilians who say they bought hospitality packages including Olympic tickets from THG.

THG does not have permission to sell Rio 2016 tickets and police were called. The five men are accused of facilitating touting, which carries a prison sentence of two to four years; conspiracy, which has a sentence of between one and three; and illegal marketing, which carries a sentence of six months to one year. Police seized 823 high-end tickets from Mr Mallon. The Olympic Council of Ireland, which had given reseller rights to THG for previous Games, denied any knowledge. Last week, Pro 10 Sports Management, the current official Irish reseller, said THG had been distributing tickets on behalf of Pro 10.

Customers

But police yesterday dismissed this. Mr Barboza said: "All the negotiations were done through THG directly. They were the operator of these ticket sales."

The police had emails from customers proving this, he said.

"They are the directors of THG," he added. "This was how the company made money."

THG Sports was an authorised reseller of tickets for London 2012 and Sochi 2014 but has no such rights for Rio 2016.

A spokesperson for THG and Marcus Evans said they have made absolutely clear that the allegations "are entirely without foundation".

"Our Brazilian lawyers have advised us that there is no evidence to support these allegations, as indeed there is not, and we shall be vigorously defending all charges that have been brought," they told the Irish Independent.

"We have made absolutely clear that the allegations made against our colleague, Kevin Mallon, and ourselves are entirely without foundation," they added.

"Pro10, the Irish Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR), has also made it absolutely clear that the tickets held by Kevin were on behalf of the Irish ATR and were held for collection by Pro 10 clients in Rio. Having tickets on the ground for collection is standard practice for an ATR during games time."

Irish Independent

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