Friday 18 October 2019

Ross wants contracts between OCI and ticket firm made public

Sport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Sport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Niall O'Connor

Sport Minister Shane Ross will put pressure on the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to publish its contracts with THG, the UK firm at the centre of the Rio ticketing scandal.

Mr Ross believes the contracts should be published in full, in order to provide clarity on the type of deals struck between THG and the under-fire former OCI president Pat Hickey.

Mr Hickey, who is facing the prospect of criminal charges in Brazil, has so far refused to co-operate with the inquiry led by Judge Carroll Moran into the touting scandal.

He has also rejected an invitation to appear in front of the Oireachtas sport committee, citing legal advice.

While members of the committee want to compel Mr Hickey to co-operate, senior Government sources said such a move was highly unlikely.

One senior figure said the move could end up in the courts and would potentially prove very costly for the taxpayer. A more likely option is for the report to be referred to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

"That doesn't mean the likes of the contracts with THG could not be published on the OCI website. That's what Shane Ross believes should happen," said a source.

Since the publication of the Moran report, it has emerged that THG has the rights to serve as Ireland's official ticket agent for all Olympic games up until 2026.

OCI president Sarah Keane last week said the body's lawyers were examining the contracts to determine their validity and whether parties could withdraw. Ms Keane said the matter would be discussed at length by the board at an EGM in the coming weeks.

Appearing before the sport committee on Friday, Ms Keane said she had not seen the original contracts.

She said the versions being examined by the OCI's legal teams were sent by THG itself.

Ms Keane said one deal the OCI had with THG, which dates from 2012, appeared to have been brought before the board.

A later one, however, was signed by Mr Hickey and never came before the board.

Ms Keane said the former OCI president did not indicate there were contracts in place with THG running until 2026 during a meeting earlier this year.

She said she and other board members would have significant difficulty with Mr Hickey returning to the board once the investigation in Rio is complete.

Irish Independent

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