THE former President of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey has spoken publicly for the first time since his arrest during the Olympics last year.
Mr Hickey, 71, was arrested in August last year at his hotel room in the Barra de Tijuca district of Rio de Janeiro, in relation to the illegal reselling of Olympic tickets for the Rio games.
Initially Mr Hickey, who has continuously denied all charges of ticket touting against him, had been placed in the city's Bangu 10 prison before being released on bail under house arrest in the Brazilian capital.
But in November last year, a Rio judge granted Mr Hickey permission to return home to Ireland in December for medical treatment, where he remains on bail.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Hickey responded to allegations that his arrest had cost the Olympic Council of Ireland €1.5million.
The current president of the OCI Sarah Keane told an AGM last week that the last year had been "extremely costly" for the Council, with €1.04million of the €1.5million spent in legal fees alone, all relating to the ticket-touting controversy.
The OCI then spent another €214,000 to pay for the Grant Thornton Report, examining OCI ticketing arrangements, a further €84,000 in public relations fees, €70,000 in data protection, consultancy, €31,000 in accommodation, travel and subsistence, and €18,000 on the Deloitte Report, which examined the OCI’s governance in light of the Rio controversy.
In a short clip released ahead of Mr Hickey's interview, due to be broadcast tomorrow, the former President said the claims are not 'correct' and the money was spent without his knowledge.
"My reaction [to the claims] is that, that is not correct.
"There is full insurance cover at the moment for my costs and the impression the media give is that I was the sole cost of this spent of €1.5million.
"I've been able to establish that after I was arrested in Rio, the Executive Committee created a Crisis Management Committee which consisted of three people and they had powers of expenditure.
"The €1.5million was done without my knowledge, I know nothing about it.
"This was done by the Crisis Management Committee, it was just that the media gave the wrong impression that I was the cause of that cost."
— Ian O'Riordan (@ianoriordan) June 22, 2017
Speaking at the AGM, OCI President Sarah Keane said: “It is a significant amount of money, and nobody is happy it’s gone the way it has.
“But it was a criminal matter, and it was significant for everyone involved, board members stuck out in Rio with no passport, and they are entitled to get advice and support around that.
“So the past year has been extremely damaging, financially, as well as reputationally. The legal costs alone are over €1million, and the final figure will not be known until after all the legal proceedings in Rio are brought to a conclusion.”