Wednesday 13 December 2017

Rio police to name new Irish suspect in ticketing controversy

Pat Hickey leaves a police station
Pat Hickey leaves a police station

Matt Sandy in Rio

Former OCI president Patrick Hickey last night refused to answer questions by Brazilian police in Rio.

The Public Prosecutor's office in Rio de Janeiro has formally laid charges before a judge in relation to Mr Hickey and his role in the alleged ticket-touting scandal during the Olympic Games.

Kevin Mallon
Kevin Mallon

The 71-year-old, who was arrested on August 17, may face charges alongside nine others, including THG director Kevin James Mallon (36).

A judge must now decide whether to accept or reject the charges, which include ticket-touting, forming a criminal cartel, illicit marketing, embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering, a statement from state prosecutors said, without specifying which individuals will face which charges.

The denouncement, signed by prosecutor Marcos Kac, was referred to a special Olympic court on Monday afternoon. It is the latest stage in Brazil's criminal process.

Mr Hickey, who has temporarily stepped aside as OCI president, arrived at the Civil Police station in Rio yesterday evening at 3.24pm local time and left the station less than one hour later.

Mr Hickey's family issued a statement saying he would not be answering any police questions as part of a new line of enquiry.

"Our dad, Pat Hickey, will not be making any comment in the police station at his pre-arranged questioning," they said in the statement. "He will be invoking his constitutional right to silence because the Brazilian police have released documents to the media that Pat's lawyers have had no access to."

They also said that "contrary to misreporting in Ireland", Mr Hickey has not been charged with any offence.

Speaking after the interview, detectives confirmed that Mr Hickey refused to answer any of the questions put to him.

"He stayed silent," said detective Aloysio Falcao. "We asked 14 questions, but he gave us only silence. Now, we have one more step to take in our investigation, which will be explained on Thursday, at a press conference."

"He claimed his constitutional right [to stay silent]. He has the right to only speak in court, not to incriminate himself. That is a right that is in the constitution, we understand that and [it] is appropriate," Mr Falcao added.

The detective said that up until now two people had been arrested and eight others indicted.

"The 10 are the directors of THG, Patrick Hickey, and the directors of PRO10. The 10 people charged come from these three institutions,"he said.

A previous investigation had been completed and sent to prosecutors last week, leading to the charges announced by prosecutors today, he said.

"Today was a new phase of the investigation that will be explained on Thursday," Mr Falcao said. Asked whether this new phase of the investigation could lead to more charges, he said: "We believe so."

He said there was now one Irish person not previously mentioned who was now a focus after they examined data from computers and mobile phones seized during the investigation.

Asked whether Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon could be rearrested as a result of the new investigation, he said: "On Thursday we will explain."

Mr Mallon was questioned on Monday and also refused to comment to police. The executive of hospitality firm THG Sports was first arrested on August 5 at a hotel in Rio, with 823 high-end tickets in his possession. Like Mr Hickey, who was arrested at the five-star hotel where Olympic officials were staying, he has since been released from the Bangu 10 jail. Both Mr Mallon and Mr Hickey have had their passports confiscated and police said they were keen that they remain in Brazil for the duration of proceedings, though they accept this will be a matter for the courts to decide.

Last Monday, a judge ordered Mr Hickey's release from prison. He and Mr Mallon are staying at separate apartments in Rio while the investigation continues.

Irish Independent

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