Altice co-founder placed under house arrest in Portugal in corruption probe

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Armando Pereira, who co-founded telecoms and media group Altice alongside French billionaire Patrick Drahi, has been positioned below home arrest in Portugal on the order of a decide as public prosecutors examine corruption allegations towards him.

The investigation centres on whether or not Pereira and businessman Hernâni Vaz Antunes, who was additionally positioned below home arrest by a decide late on Monday, have been concerned in a scheme to rig the French group’s native procurement processes in Portugal.

The Portuguese case erupted earlier this month when Pereira was detained as a part of the probe into alleged corruption, tax fraud and cash laundering, and Altice’s places of work within the nation have been searched by police following a three-year investigation.

The fallout has since shaken the broader Altice group, which has operations within the US and Europe and is thought for its debt-fuelled acquisition spree below Drahi that included the €17bn takeover of France’s SFR in 2014.

The corporate stated it had launched its personal inside investigation and suspended a number of workers, together with in procurement.

The chair of Altice USA, Alexandre Fonseca, who was chief govt of the Portuguese enterprise when a number of the alleged schemes have been put in place, is on go away, the corporate stated. Pereira has denied wrongdoing. Antunes’ lawyer declined to remark.

Altice has stated it’s co-operating with investigators and has “allegedly been defrauded because of dangerous practices and misconduct of sure people and exterior entities”.

In an inside memo to French workers seen by the Monetary Occasions, Altice executives stated the corporate was reviewing its provide chain approvals in Portugal and had suspended any suspicious funds.

Portuguese judges should resolve whether or not Pereira and Antunes are to be formally charged in court docket. Prosecutors had requested that each males be taken into custody, however a decide opted for home arrest with no digital tagging.

After the choice, Pereira’s lawyer stated: “At the very least, he’s going to sleep at dwelling along with his household. It’s a lot preferable to being in [prison].”

The Portuguese investigation into monetary irregularities at Altice has been codenamed Operation Picoas after the Lisbon neighbourhood the place Altice has its nation workplace.

Costs of Altice’s tens of billions of {dollars} of bonds throughout its companies across the globe have slumped because the tax fraud revelations first emerged.

Unsecured bonds at its foremost French telecoms unit are buying and selling as little as 35 cents on the euro, suggesting that buyers are braced for heavy losses.

Drahi, who is predicated in Switzerland, took the once-listed European operations of Altice non-public once more in 2021 after founding it in 2001.

Pereira, as soon as certainly one of Drahi’s subcontractors engaged on installations in his early cable ventures, has lengthy had influential roles within the enterprise, together with in procurement.

Altice USA stays listed, with Drahi as its largest shareholder. The French businessman had just lately elevated Altice’s stake in Britain’s BT to 18 per cent, although stated he had no intention of attempting to take management of the previous British monopoly.

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