Whelan bail release bid fails
The British executive detained as part of a World Cup ticket touting investigation in Brazil is being held in the notorious Bangu Prison in Rio de Janeiro after efforts to secure his release on bail failed, his brother-in-law has revealed.
Ray Whelan, 64, has been in custody after handing himself into a court in Rio last Monday, four days after Rio police declared him a fugitive.
Whelan, former agent to Sir Bobby Charlton, is a director of MATCH Services - a subsidiary of the MATCH company that provides ticket, hospitality and accommodation services for FIFA.
Bangu Prison is home to some of Brazil's most dangerous criminals, including murderers, drugs traffickers and gang members.
Jaime Byrom, the executive chairman of MATCH and Whelan's brother-in-law, said the decision to place him in custody in Bangu appeared "extreme" and that he was confident he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Byrom told Press Association Sport: "It does seem extreme for us to have a member of our company and our family in prison, least of all in a prison such as Bangu which is typically reserved for crimes such as drug-trafficking, murder and crimes against the state.
"We are relieved to know however that he is safe in that he has been put into a private cell.
"We have applied for bail on more than one occasion because he is not a threat to anybody. I am absolutely confident the Brazilian legal system will clear him of any wrongdoing and we are very well-placed to assist the authorities with their inquiries."
Whelan was first arrested two weeks ago and released on bail, but he then disappeared from his hotel two weeks ago via a service entrance minutes before police investigating illegal World Cup ticket sales arrived to arrest him again.
Byrom - one of the founders of the Stockport-based company Byrom plc which owns MATCH - said Whelan had not been "a fugitive" and had abided by bail conditions but that he had left the hotel on the advice of his lawyer.
The case against Whelan centres on mobile phone conversations between him and a French-Algerian, Lamine Fofana, who is alleged to be the leader of the ticket touting ring. Police have released the recordings to the Brazilian media and Whelan can be heard negotiating the sale of 24 hospitality packages for 25,000 US dollars (Â£14,650) each - the face value - in cash, totalling 600,000 dollars (Â£352,000).
Whelan works for MATCH Services, MATCH's accommodation company, but Byrom said he had been authorised to sell 30 packages that MATCH Services had been left with when a Brazilian hotel chain decided only to take up 12 of the 42 packages it had reserved.
Byrom added: "There was nothing inappropriate about the conversation Ray was having with Fofana. He was offering specific 24 MATCH business seats which are precisely the seats MATCH Services were left with.
"Everything that has been leaked to the media, far from incriminating Ray, shows precisely a situation that's perfectly within the context of our day-to-day business."
MATCH has previously admitted that offering the packages for cash was "highly unusual" but that it was "permitted under the various terms and conditions".
Fofana had been blocked by MATCH Hospitality from purchasing packages the previous month, but Byrom said the fact Whelan worked for MATCH Services meant he would have had no knowledge of that fact.
Byrom said the company had plenty of documentary evidence that would establish Whelan was not involved in any wrongdoing.
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