World Cup tickets: Ray Whelan and 11 others indicted

Ray Whelan (left) is escorted to a police station in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: 7 July 2014 Ray Whelan (left) was arrested at Rio's luxurious Copacabana Palace Hotel and released after questioning

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Police in Brazil have formally accused 12 people, including the director of a World Cup hospitality company, over alleged illegal ticket sales.

Ray Whelan, who works for Fifa partner company Match Hospitality, was held in Rio de Janeiro on Monday and released after questioning.

Mr Whelan - who denies any wrongdoing - has now surrendered his passport.

An international gang is said to have earned some $90m (£52m) per tournament and may have acted at four World Cups.

The gang is believed to have been making money by acquiring and illegally selling on VIP tickets and hospitality passes.

'Illegal and absurd'

The 12 suspects are formally accused of illegal ticket selling and criminal association.

Mr Whelan, a British national, was detained on Monday at Rio de Janeiro's exclusive Copacabana Palace Hotel, which is also hosting officials from Fifa, world football's governing body.

The other 11 suspects were arrested last week.

A public prosecutor in Rio is now reviewing the evidence and will decide in coming days whether to bring the case to court.

On Wednesday, Mr Whelan decided to give his tournament credentials.

In a statement, Match Hospitality said that he "takes this decision with no acceptance of wrongdoing" and would be "exonerated".

Investigators told the BBC's Wyre Davies that the scam was on an "industrial scale" - first broadcast 6 July

It added that Mr Whelan "remains fully co-operative for further investigations which he is certain will exonerate him".

Mr Whelan's, Fernando Fernandes, said that his arrest was "illegal and absurd".

Switzerland-based Match Hospitality - part of UK sports event manager Byrom based in Cheadle, near Manchester - said on Tuesday that it was assisting the police investigation.

A statement from Fifa said that it "continues to fully collaborate with the local authorities and will provide any details requested to assist with this ongoing investigation".

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