Sunday 25 September 2016

Firm at centre of €3m Rio ticketing scandal to 'vigorously defend' Irishman accused of touting

Published 09/08/2016 | 16:32

Tickets of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games seized to one of the directors of THG Sports, a company of international business events and information group Marcus Evans, Irish Kevin James Mallon (inset), are displayed during a press conference at the City Police's station in Benfica, north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tickets of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games seized to one of the directors of THG Sports, a company of international business events and information group Marcus Evans, Irish Kevin James Mallon (inset), are displayed during a press conference at the City Police's station in Benfica, north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The employers of Irishman Kevin Mallon, who is is accused of conspiracy and helping sell Irish Olympic tickets illegally, have said they will be 'vigorously defending' him against the accusations.

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In a strong statement released this afternoon, THG Group, where Mallon works as a finance director, said they 'entirely refute any suggestion that they or he have acted in anyway unlawfully' and 'based on a preliminary review of the facts, we understand Mr Mallon has not breached any local laws or IOC rules'.

Mallon was arrested with tickets for the Rio Games that had been allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland. The OCI is currently investigating how the tickets ended up with the hospitality group employee.

In 2012, THG Sports was Ireland's authorised ticket seller but Pro 10 are acting in that capacity this year.

“The OCI has launched an immediate investigation with our ATR [authorised ticket reseller], Pro10, into how the individuals were allegedly in possession of OCI allocated tickets,” the organisation said in a statement yesterday," the organisation said yesterday.

The son of OCI president Pat Hickey, Stephen Hickey, has previously worked as a manager for THG Sports.

There is no suggestion that the Hickeys are involved in this current investigation.

Inspector Ricardo Barbosa told a press conference in Rio that THG was offering tickets for the opening ceremony for more than four times the original price, and claimed the combined worth of the illegal ticket sales could have been up to €3m.

According to the Brazilian broadcaster Globo, in one case a man bought ten tickets for his family spending $80,000 (€72,202).

Police intervened, and instead of going to the event, the family were brought to the police station to give statements.

Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso told Globo, "These are real tickets. They are originals. They are offered as part of the package, facilities like the transport of passengers, and other things like that."

Mallon has been accused of conspiracy, illicit marketing and facilitating the touting of tickets.

Another THG employee, Barbara Carnieri, an interpreter, was also arrested and is accused of illicit marketing.

Police said in total they have seized more than 1,000 “very high value” tickets.

Mallon was detained by a court last Friday pending the police investigation.

Here is THG statement in full:

“We are aware that Kevin Mallon who is employed by the THG Group in Dublin as a Finance Director with the group, has been questioned by Brazilian enforcement authorities in respect of matters arising out of the Olympic Games currently being held in Brazil. Whilst we are fully investigating the matter with the Brazilian authorities and with our local lawyers, THG entirely refute any suggestion that they or he have acted in anyway unlawfully.

"Based on a preliminary review of the facts, we understand Mr Mallon has not breached any local laws or IOC rules. As a consequence THG will be vigorously defending Mr Mallon as well as taking any appropriate action to stop any illegitimate attempt by the Brazilian authorities to disrupt THG's legitimate activities. Until we have more details of the allegations made against Mr Mallon and have fully investigated the matter, THG will not be making any further statements.”

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