Rio de Janeiro: An executive from the World Cup's hospitality services firm escaped out the back door of his plush Rio de Janeiro hotel Thursday to avoid arrest on charges of illegally selling tickets, Brazilian police said.
Raymond Whelan, a British director of FIFA partner company Match Services, fled the luxurious Copacabana Palace Hotel after a judge ordered him and 10 other suspects to be held in detention, the Rio prosecutor's office said.
"The Englishman fled through the hotel's back door and is considered a fugitive," Rio police said in a separate statement.
"We saw him in (security) footage leaving in a hurry," Fabio Barucke, the case's lead investigator, was quoted as saying by the G1 news website.
Police have launched a manhunt for Whelan, who is accused of being involved with a scalping network that has sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup.
Whelan, who denies the charges, was initially arrested on Monday but was granted preventive release the next day.
Police filed charges against him and 11 other suspects on Wednesday and submitted the case to prosecutors, who requested an arrest warrant against all except one who was cooperating with investigators.
Prosecutors said the 12 suspects face charges of organized crime, illegal ticket sales, corruption, money laundering and tax fraud.
Brazilian media have published leaked phone calls between Whelan and one of the chief suspects in the case, French-Algerian Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, discussing hospitality packages for games including Sunday's final.
But Match Services has defended Whelan, saying he was innocent and that there was nothing illegal about the conversations.
The Zurich-based company says Whelan was discussing the sale of 24 hospitality packages at the correct price, though he rounded up the figure to $25,000 from $24,750 per package, and that the deal was never concluded.