Ray Whelan, executive at FIFA partner Match Services, is considered a fugitive thanks to his connection with the ticket scalping scheme that has blighted the World Cup.
According to Rio de Janeiro investigator Fabio Barucke, Whelan was taken into custody on Monday, but was released on Tuesday morning.
Police arrived at his Copacabana Beach hotel to re-arrest him Thursday, but he had left an hour before they arrived and is on the run. Police stationed guards at the hotel (pictured).
According to Brazilian police, the Englishman is heavily involved in a World Cup ticket scheme that has ensnared Algerian Lamine Fofana who the police are also looking for.
Match Services is one of the largest FIFA ticket partners, selling hospitality packages to World Cup games. However, the worldwide event has seen a scalping ring rock the country, with 11 already arrested, including Fofana, and four companies stripped of their ticket rights.
“Raymond knew that Fofana was a scalper, he knew that he was going to resell those tickets on the black market,” Barucke told reporters in Rio.
Match has disputed those claims, releasing a statement saying:
“Far from helping to incriminate Mr Whelan, they secured a nationwide audience who clearly heard Mr Whelan conduct a discussion for the possible sale of an official hospitality product. The 24 hospitality packages were offered on cash basis, which is highly unusual but permitted under the various terms and conditions. It must be noted that Mr Whelan was not aware of the fact that Match Hospitality had internally blocked sales to Mr Fofana.”
Normally under Brazilian law, scalping is only punishable by a $225 fine, but Barucke has specifically asked a judge to see the group as a criminal conspiracy, which would carry a possible sentence of significant jail time.