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article imageBrazil drops Cup scalping claim against British executive

By AFP     Feb 11, 2015 in World

Brazilian authorities have dropped their case against a British businessman accused of being involved in a $100-million ticket scalping racket at last year's World Cup, his company reported Wednesday.

Ray Whelan, who worked as executive consultant for ticketing hospitality agency and FIFA partner MATCH, managed lucrative contracts for VIP tickets and fan hospitality packages but was arrested last July as Brazilian authorities probed a scalping ring.

A MATCH spokesman told AFP the case against Whelan had been dropped after the sixth Criminal Chamber of the Justice Tribunal in Rio de Janeiro closed it Tuesday, "dismissing all charges against Ray Whelan."

The spokesman added: "According to the decision there was no evidence to support the accusations brought forward by the prosecution."

Whelan, 64, was granted bail last August after spending some weeks in a Rio prison cell.

Whelan denied any wrongdoing throughout the investigation, which centered on mobile phone conversations between him and Lamine Fofana, the French-Algerian alleged leader of the scalping operation.

The calls showed the Briton negotiating more than 20 hospitality packages for their face value of $25,000 each

Police claimed Whelan gave VIP tickets to Fofana that were originally for sponsors, non-governmental organizations and relatives of players. Fofana then sold them illegally with the help of travel agencies and football contacts.

The Briton was granted bail in August after a Brazilian supreme court judge granted him an injunction.

Fofana had been put on a MATCH blacklist for purchasing hospitality packages after coming under suspicion but Whelan's legal team argued he was not aware of that.

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