Armando Pereira, co-founder and former COO of Altice, was arrested late last week as part of a sweeping investigation into corruption, tax fraud, and money laundering
Armando Pereira, Portugal’s richest man and co-founder of the country’s largest telecoms operator Altice, was on Thursday detained for questioning by police as part of a major investigation into corporate corruption.
The ex-COO of Altice was one of three people detained in a widespread operation by Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP) that saw around 90 homes and premises searched and around €20 million of property seized.
The raids were the culmination of a three-year investigation by the DCIAP that alleges procurement decisions taken at Altice under Pereira’s oversight were done so in a way that was “harmful to the companies of that group and to the competition”, according to a statement from the DCIAP.
The investigators also claim that individuals and entities outside Altice Group are being examined for evidence of tax fraud worth over €100 million, as well as money laundering facilitated by the company’s corporate structure.
Altice says that it is complying with the probe and “providing all the cooperation requested”.
The company’s Portuguese offers were reportedly among those searched by law enforcement.
Following the raids, the CEO and chairman of Altice’s Portuguese and US businesses, Alexandre Fonseca, temporarily suspended himself from all executive and non-executive duties in the company.
“With this decision, Alexandre Fonseca is looking to fully protect and safeguard the Altice Group’s best interests and all its brands, in an ongoing public process, where allegedly, there are facts under investigation which occurred in the timeframe where he was the CEO of Altice Portugal,” said the company in a statement. “This posture from Alexandre Fonseca comes as responsible on the path to clarification of the truth.”
Fonseca also resigned from the board of Altice USA over the weekend.
Altice USA itself has said that it has launched its own independent investigation following the arrests, including placing their chief procurement officer, Yossi Benchetrit, on leave.
“Altice USA is an independent, U.S.-based company, and, in response to the circumstances in Portugal, we immediately launched an internal investigation. While we conduct this investigation, our chief procurement officer has been placed on leave to ensure the company retains its focus on its operations and serving customers,” said an Altice USA spokesperson.
Pereira founded Altice alongside Patrick Drahi and Bruno Moineville in 2002.
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