Sunday 25 August 2019

OCI paid $1m by ticketing firm for London and Sochi Games

Fiasco: Seized Olympic Games tickets are displayed during a press conference at the police station in Benfica, Rio de Janeiro
Fiasco: Seized Olympic Games tickets are displayed during a press conference at the police station in Benfica, Rio de Janeiro
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Olympic Council of Ireland was paid US$1m by a ticketing company in advance of the London Games "without an explanation" for how the agent would recoup its money.

The deal secured by then-OCI president Pat Hickey is called into question by a judge who led a year-long inquiry into the ticket touting fiasco that engulfed the Rio Olympics exactly one year ago.

Today, the Sunday Independent can exclusively reveal the full findings of Judge Carroll Moran's long-awaited report. He believes the OCI is still owed up to $150,000 (€127,000) by the company Pro10 which was its Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) in Brazil.

And he outlines how Ireland initially sought 2,138 public tickets for the Rio Games - but excluded sports such as boxing, golf, rowing and sailing where we had genuine medal hopes.

The 226-page Moran Report criticises the governance of the OCI over many years, saying accounting procedures were "not robust" and best practice for a body in receipt of taxpayers' money "was not always applied".

However, the judge has failed to point to any criminal activity or financial impropriety on the part of Mr Hickey.

Mr Justice Moran does question a €60,000-a-year allowance paid to the ex-president between 2010 and 2016, saying it was "not consistent with the interpretation of an honorarium as a nominal payment to honour a voluntary contribution".

In relation to the events which led to Mr Hickey's dramatic arrest during the Rio Games, the report points to a "concealed relationship" between the 72-year-old and British millionaire Marcus Evans.

The Ipswich Town Football Club owner had originally wanted his company, THG, to be the OCI's ATR in Rio but was rejected by the Games' organising committee. Officials had suspicions THG were involved in touting and special hospitality events during the World Cup in 2014.

In response, associates of Mr Evans set up Pro10 which was subsequently awarded the contract.

However, the judge concludes that Pro10 was "not a genuine ATR but its involvement disguised the continuing role of THG".

One of the many unanswered questions surrounds a $1m (€850,000) lodgement made by THG to the OCI as part of a deal to be the ATR for London 2012 and Sochi 2014.

The judge says this was done "without an explanation being given at the time as to how it would recoup this sum or earn a return on such a large outlay".

He added: "It would have had to sell a much greater quantity than those allocated to the OCI."

The report also notes that Pro10 could still owe the OCI a substantial sum on foot of its Rio deal. Asked about this, the OCI's first vice president, William O'Brien, told the inquiry there had been no dealings with Pro10 "because of the court cases that were going".

Transport Minister Shane Ross will tomorrow publicly release the report, originally due last December.

The delay was in part due to a lack of co-operation with the judge's efforts to establish the facts.

Sunday Independent

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