Monday 23 April 2018

Tip-off to Rio police that toppled Hickey

World Cup winner sparked tout investigation OCI president 'evasive, unhelpful' during questioning

Former Brazilian footballer Romario. Getty Images
Former Brazilian footballer Romario. Getty Images

Cathal McMahon in Rio EXCLUSIVE

Police in Brazil began their investigation into Pat Hickey and THG ticket sales following a "tip-off" from football legend Romario four years ago.

Ricardo Barboza de Souza, head of the Civil Police Fraud Unit in Rio de Janeiro, has told the Irish Independent his unit began to probe the alleged fraud after the former World Cup winner spoke in the Brazilian parliament.

In an exclusive interview, Commissioner Barboza also claimed that Mr Hickey was "evasive and unhelpful" when he spoke to police.

He said: "Romario is now an important politician here. He tipped us off in 2012. He already denounced Pat [Hickey] and said there is something going on. That was a very big factor."

Mr Hickey (71) denies any wrongdoing but will spend the weekend in Brazil's largest prison complex.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the board of the Olympic Council of Ireland. Asked whether it was time for a clear-out of the OCI board to restore public trust, Sports Minister Shane Ross replied: "That's a very fair question. If the initial questions lead in that direction I don't think we should be reluctant to go down that road." A non-statutory inquiry will be set up to investigate the controversy which has dogged Ireland's Olympics.

Irish Independent

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