OCI deal may have breached crim­i­nal law

The Irish Times - - News Features - SARAH BARDON Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter

The Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate En­force­ment has ad­vised TDs and Se­na­tors that the Olympic Coun­cil of Ire­land’s ticket deal with THG may have amounted to de­cep­tion and breached crim­i­nal law.

The ODCE was asked to con­sider the find­ings of the in­quiry of Mr Jus­tice Car­roll Mo­ran into the ticket-tout­ing con­tro­versy.

The re­port found that THG, a Bri­tish tick­et­ing firm, es­tab­lished Pro10 to act as the OCI’ts ticket re­seller for the 2016 Olympic games, af­ter THG was re­jected.

It also out­lines how for­mer OCI pres­i­dent Pat Hickey and THG owner Marcus Evans fo­cused solely on the mu­tual fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit to both com­pa­nies.

In cor­re­spon­dence to the Oireach­tas Com­mit­tee on Sport, the ODCE found this was “the most se­ri­ous as­pects of the re­port”.

Rec­om­men­da­tion

While ev­ery per­son is en­ti­tled to the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence, it rec­om­mended the com­mit­tee ex­am­ine pro­vi­sions of the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Theft and Fraud Of­fences) Act 2001.

It pointed to a par­tic­u­lar of­fence of mak­ing gains by de­cep­tion, which car­ries a five-year term.

The cor­re­spon­dence added: “In the con­text of the fore­go­ing, it is im­por­tant to bear in mind hav­ing re­gard to the var­i­ous ju­ris­dic­tions ref­er­enced in the re­port that, even if it were the case that a de­cep­tion (or a con­spir­acy to de­ceive) oc­curred, the ques­tion would arise as to what ju­ris­dic­tion(s) any such de­cep­tion, or con­spir­acy to de­ceive, had oc­curred in.

“That would gen­er­ally be a mat­ter for coun­sel to ad­vise on in the con­text of an ad­vice on proofs. The Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Theft and Fraud Of­fences) Act 2001 falls out­side com­pany law and, as such, the pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity for in­ves­ti­gat­ing sus­pected of­fences un­der that leg­is­la­tion re­sides with An Garda Síochána.”

The ODCE stressed it could not find any ex­am­ple of a breach of com­pany law con­tained within Mr Jus­tice Mo­ran’s re­port. How­ever, it pointed to the lim­i­ta­tions on the in­quiry in­clud­ing the lack of co-op­er­a­tion from key wit­nesses. It said the hon­o­rar­ium pay­ment of ¤60,000 to Mr Hickey over six years did not show any sug­ges­tion of a breach of com­pany law.

‘‘

The re­port found that THG es­tab­lished Pro10 to act as the OCI’s ticket re­seller af­ter THG was re­jected

Tax ex­emp­tion

How­ever, it added: “One point that is, how­ever, worth not­ing in the con­text of the fore­go­ing is that the OCI has been granted a tax ex­emp­tion in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion 235 of the Taxes Con­sol­i­da­tion Act 1997.

“It oc­curs that the terms and con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with the grant­ing of that ex­emp­tion may in­clude con­di­tions re­gard­ing the pay­ment of sums to di­rec­tors and of­fi­cers of ex­empted bod­ies. How­ever, that is a mat­ter that the Rev­enue Com­mis­sion­ers would be best placed to as­sist the com­mit­tee with.”

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