British businessman Ray Whelan, arrested in connection with a multi-million dollar match ticket selling scam at the World Cup, has now apparently disappeared from his hotel room and is considered a "fugitive", say Brazil police.
When police went to Mr Whelan's hotel room at the Copacabana Hotel - used by senior Fifa officials including President Sepp Blatter - they discovered the Match Hospitality chief executive had left an hour before.
Police chief Fabio Barucke said: "We have security camera images of him exiting the hotel through a service door."
It was thought Whelan, a former agent to Sir Bobby Charlton and whose company has exclusive rights to sell corporate package deals for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, had surrendered his passport when he was arrested by police on Monday night.
Whelan's arrest came as part of a major investigation into the re-sale of match tickets to World Cup matches believed to have been operating out of the Copacabana Hotel in Rio. Whelan's arrest followed 11 others including that of Franco-Algerian Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, also staying at the hotel, who is believed to have been a conduit to someone high up within Fifa.
Investigating police officer Barucke said 900 phone calls between Whelan and Fofana had been made since the start of the World Cup, mostly discussing match tickets. Barucke said that Whelan "knew that Fofana was a scalper, he knew that he was going to resell those tickets on the black market." Re-selling tickets is a crime in Brazil and against Fifa regulations.
However Jaime Byrom, chairman of Match Hospitality subsidiary Match Services - released a statement supporting Whelan.
"Far from helping to incriminate Mr Whelan," said the statement, "they (the phone calls to Fofana) 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."