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Ticketing scandal: THG and Pro10 back calls for independent probe

Meanwhile, Pat Hickey has been denied bail in Rio.

pat2 Hickey is released from hospital in Rio. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Updated at 9.05am 

FORMER IRISH OLYMPICS boss Pat Hickey, facing charges over Rio Games black market tickets, left hospital in a wheelchair yesterday and has been questioned by Brazilian police.

It follows the 71-year-old’s arrest at his hotel early on Wednesday morning in connection with the ongoing ticketing controversy. He spent that night in hospital after complaining of a heart condition, police said.

RTÉ is reporting this morning that a judge has denied Hickey bail.

He gave a statement to the senior police officer leading the investigation into the sale of Olympic tickets, according to the broadcaster, and was then taken to a processing centre.

In another development this morning, the two companies at the centre of the controversy – hospitality firm THG and sports management company Pro10 – have backed calls for an independent probe into the affair.

Events in Rio 

Hickey has temporarily stepped aside from his role in charge of the sporting body in the wake of his arrest. He has also stepped down from his position as head of the European Olympic Committees

He was seen being pushed out of the hospital in a wheelchair last evening, and was was taken from there to the Legal Medical Institute in Rio for further exams.

“The Olympic Council of Ireland can confirm that Pat Hickey has been discharged from hospital and has been accompanied to a police station to complete a deposition,” a statement released by the OCI said.

Brazilian investigators have accused Hickey of conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing as part of a scheme to sell tickets on the black market.

Hickey had denied any involvement after the arrest last week in Rio of another Irish citizen, Kevin Mallon, the head of THG.

Police said they seized hundreds of tickets from Mallon – some of which had the Olympic Council of Ireland name on them.

18/8/2016 Rio Olympics Ticket Scandal. Independent Source: Sam Boal

Ross meeting

Back home, Sports Minister Shane Ross is due to meet with the Attorney General and other officials today as the Government tries to decide the best way forward.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials will also be at that meeting. Speaking to reporters after returning from Rio yesterday evening Ross said it would be decided “as a matter of urgency” what sort of inquiry would be set up to examine the matter.

Prior to his arrest Hickey had met twice in tense circumstances with Ross in Rio, with the Minister putting pressure on Hickey to allow an independent member to be placed on the OCI’s inquiry into the scandal.

What happened, when? 

The controversy kicked off on Sunday 7 August when reports emerged that an Irish man had been arrested in Rio on suspicion of ticket touting.

He was named the following day as Mallon, a director of the British-based THG, and it was revealed that many of the tickets he was in possession of were issued by the OCI.

Hickey said later that week that there was  “no impropriety whatsoever from anyone in the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets”.

Meanwhile, the Lucan-based Pro10, which had been contracted to resell the OCI’s tickets, said that Mallon was distributing tickets on its behalf.

THG and Pro10 back probe 

Both THG and Pro10 backed calls for an independent inquiry in separate statements this morning, as Minister Ross prepared for his high-level meeting with the AG.

“THG wishes to make clear that it would very much welcome such an inquiry and pledges to provide full cooperation in the strong belief that it can demonstrate that the company has acted lawfully at all times,” this morning’s statement said.

“While THG respects the Brazilian police process, which clearly is different to that in the UK or Ireland, THG believes that a full and proper judicial assessment cannot be achieved without consideration of, and access to, all the THG compliance documentation which THG has followed in the provision of hospitality packages in Rio.

THG would like to see that an independent inquiry, under the chair of a respected Irish legal figure, be actioned expeditiously.

Additionally, THG says it refutes any suggestions of impropriety or breach of any laws or Rio Games’ local organising committee (ROCOG) regulations.

In its statement, Pro10 said it supported a judge-led inquiry into the matter.

“We believe that it should be a full Commission of Investigation under the 2004 Act of that name,” the sports management firm said.

“A Commission of Investigation should be established speedily; investigate all relevant facts and report its conclusions in the shortest possible time. We understand that the terms of any investigation should respect the Brazilian legal process.

“We have nothing to hide and are therefore anxious that the full facts are established and made public as soon as possible so that our good name can be exonerated.

PRO10 has cooperated fully with any request for information from ROCOG and the IOC and we will comply fully with the proposed Commission of Investigation. We welcome Minister Ross’s efforts to uncover the facts of this matter as soon as possible.

The Commissions of Investigation Act allows for the establishment of inquiries into matters of significant public concern. The legislation was brought in as a less expensive and speedier method of investigating matters than a tribunal of inquiry.

Previous investigations carried out under the Act included inquiries into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 1974 and into the causes of the Banking Crisis (set up in 2010).

- with reporting from AFP 

Read: Pat Hickey taken from Rio hospital in a wheelchair >

Read: Olympic Council of Ireland will defend itself “to the hilt” – acting president >

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