Monday 21 May 2018

Now police in Rio name OCI's sports director Martin Burke as a suspect

OCI sports director Martin Burke. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
OCI sports director Martin Burke. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Matt Sandy in Rio de Janeiro

Police in Brazil are seeking to arrest Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) sports director Martin Burke in their ticket-touting investigation.

They named the Irishman as a suspect after police seized a hard drive from the OCI's office in Rio containing a file named 'THG additional tickets'.

The OCI appointed Mr Burke as its full-time technical director in 2003.

Praised as an "instrumental part" of the Team Ireland management team in Beijing 2008, embattled former OCI president Pat Hickey acknowledged Mr Burke's "huge input" during a post-Beijing briefing with an Oireachtas Committee in 2009.

Mr Burke has been involved in four Olympic Games.

Last night, police also said they needed to interview International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach as a witness after his name appeared several times in emails discovered during the enquiry.

Ronaldo Oliveira, the head of specialised operations at the Civil Police, said: "[Bach] could very much help clarify the work of the Civil Police to settle some doubts because he was mentioned in several emails. It is important that we can interview him, and various other people.

"Bach would be interviewed as a witness. It is important we can do that."

Charges have been laid before a judge in Brazil regarding OCI president Patrick Hickey (71) and THG Sports executive Kevin James Mallon (36).

Detectives confirmed Hickey sent a text message to Bach requesting hundreds more Rio 2016 tickets for the OCI. Hickey received 296 more tickets, but police say they have not found a response by Bach to the message.

Police said that Pat Hickey had a phone conversation with Mr Bach in April 2015 where the latter accepted a "strategy" that the OCI would be its own ticket reseller for Rio 2016 and seek to appoint THG Sports, which was having difficulties becoming its authorised reseller, as its sub-agent.

Ricardo Barboza de Souza, the detective leading the investigation, said: "Seized mobile phones and tablets, and the analysis of their contents, have brought very important data to the police."

He claimed THG "had three sources of tickets: the company PRO10, the Olympic Council of Ireland and a company called Cartan". Documents presented by police at the press conference appeared to show Marcus Evans, the owner of THG Sports, was passed dozens of tickets by the American company Cartan that seemed to have originated from the Olympic allocations of Latvia, Panama, Slovenia, Greece, Barbados, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Guatemala.

They included 90 top-price tickets for the men's football final, which host Brazil won. Cartan had the right to resell Rio 2016 tickets for 36 different countries and territories but police say it should not have given them to another agency.

An email from Cartan director Greg Harney to Pat Hickey on 22 July 2016 said: "We figured out a partnership with Marcus Evans and his team for Rio as they will be using our venue for hospitality during the Games. Have been working in particular with Marcus' guy out of Dublin - Kevin Mallon."

Detective Aloysio Falcão said: "Patrick Hickey knew of Kevin Mallon, he knew of the whole scheme done by Cartan.

Following the arrest of Kevin Mallon, Greg Harney sent Hickey an email on August 7, saying Mallon had "got busted and thrown into jail . . . at one of our hospitality venues. An ugly scene on opening night."

Hickey and Mallon face charges of ticket touting, forming a criminal cartel, illicit marketing, embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering, a statement from state prosecutors said this week, without specifying which individuals will face which charges. The OCI said it would be making no statement on the police naming Martin Burke.

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