Tuesday 21 November 2017

'I'm treated as if I’m a criminal mastermind... I'm innocent of all charges' – Pat Hickey speaks out

Former OCI president Pat Hickey vows to clear his name after ticketing scandal of Rio 2016, in an exclusive interview with Paul Williams

Former OCI president Pat Hickey talks to Paul Williams. Photo: Mark Condren
Former OCI president Pat Hickey talks to Paul Williams. Photo: Mark Condren

Paul Williams

Pat Hickey has insisted he is totally innocent of all charges as he breaks his silence about his arrest during the Olympic games.

The former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland says he has never come to police attention before.

It is almost a year since Mr Hickey's dramatic fall from grace, as he was hauled from a hotel room in Rio de Janeiro in a dawn raid by police investigating the alleged illegal sale of tickets.

His arrest in a dressing gown at the luxury Hotel Windsor Marapendi was the enduring image as his 28-year reign at the helm of the OCI drew to a close.

Pat Hickey is arrested in his dressing gown at a Rio hotel room in August 2016
Pat Hickey is arrested in his dressing gown at a Rio hotel room in August 2016

Mr Hickey spent 12 nights in the notorious Bangu prison before being released - and spent several months in Brazil before a bond of €410,000 was paid on the condition he returns to the country to face charges.

Now he has spoken for the first time about the fallout in an exclusive interview with Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams which will be broadcast on Newstalk Breakfast tomorrow.

"I have been treated as if I am a world-class criminal mastermind but I have never come to the attention of the police ever in my life before," said Mr Hickey.

"This has been hugely traumatic for me, my wife, my children and my friends. Here I am at 72 years of age being forced to fight for my good name."

Mr Hickey defended his contribution to the OCI coffers amid recent controversy about the cost of the ticketing scandal.

"Before I left Dublin on the plane to Rio, I left the OCI in a very clean state of health. There was a €3m surplus in the bank and a property in Howth that is valued at €3m.

Mr Hickey leaves a hospital in Rio in a wheelchair to be taken for further questioning by police. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Mr Hickey leaves a hospital in Rio in a wheelchair to be taken for further questioning by police. Photo: SPORTSFILE

"I am totally innocent of all these charges and I will be proven innocent."

While stressing that he could not go into specific details about his impending criminal trial, Mr Hickey said he wanted to challenge claims that the debacle had cost the OCI some €1.5m and plunged it into the red.

"The impression has been given that I was the cause of a spend of €1.5m by the OCI.

"I can categorically tell you that is not the case because I have been able to check figures," he claimed.

"My legal costs are around €280,000 and there is an insurance policy I put in place over 15 years ago. It is called directors' and officers' liability and it is particularly for something like what happened to me.

"The cover on that policy is €1m and my fees are taken out of that."

According to Mr Hickey the costs referred to by his successor Sarah Keane last week, were incurred following his arrest in Rio.

"I know nothing about it. I have cleared the air there where my costs were and where their costs were."

Judge Carroll Moran was meanwhile asked to carry out a review of the circumstances that led to the discovery of hundreds of tickets that were earmarked for the OCI in the possession of Kevin Mallon, an executive of hospitality firm THG Sports.

Mr Hickey said he had not seen the final draft of the report - but he revealed that his legal team in Dublin had warned the judge against publishing the report because it could prejudice his right to a fair trial in Rio.

"Even worse still, any media reports can also be used by the prosecutor in Brazil against me.

"Now my senior counsel and junior counsel in Ireland were aghast at this … When my Brazilian lawyers confirmed this to my Irish lawyers, everyone got a big shock."

The former OCI president took particular exception to suggestions there was a concealed relationship between him and THG.

"(There was) absolutely no concealed relationship between me and THG or any of the other sponsors, or anybody else," he said.

"Everything I have done for the OCI - don't forget I was always acting as the president of the OCI, not as Pat Hickey personally - so my job was in charge of marketing, to look after our sponsors.

"THG is the biggest sponsor of all our sponsors at €1.5m which is a phenomenal sponsorship and my job was to facilitate them to get the best deal possible on tickets."

Mr Hickey said he had not been accused of ever misappropriating funds from the OCI and that this was proved by successive audits.

  • Hear the interview on 'Newstalk' Breakfast tomorrow

Irish Independent

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