Armando Pereira, the co-founder and former chief operating officer of telecoms company Altice, has been detained for questioning in Portugal in an investigation into alleged corruption.

Bloomberg reports that Pereira has been detained since last week, citing his lawyer Pedro Marinho Falcao.

Police Portugal
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Pereira no longer holds any executive roles at the telco, which he founded with Patrick Drahi and Bruno Moineville in 2002.

According to the publication, his lawyer noted that Pereira is still awaiting questioning.

Pereira wasn't the only person arrested, as local authorities revealed three people were detained following a number of raids of homes and offices across the country last week.

The arrests are related to a three-year investigation into corruption, tax fraud, forgery, and money laundering at the telecoms company’s Portuguese subsidiary, states Bloomberg.

Prosecutors in the country suspect that procurement decisions taken at Altice were rigged in a way that harmed the group’s own companies and competitors.

In a statement, Portugal’s Central Department of Criminal Investigation and Prosecution said: "Documents considered relevant for proving the alleged offenses were also seized, as well as objects representative of the result thereof, such as luxury vehicles and exclusive models with an estimated value of around €20 million.

"The suspicions that led to the execution of the steps indicate the viciousness of the decision-making process of the Altice Group, in terms of hiring, with practices that are harmful to the companies of that group and to the competition."

Altice's Portuguese unit noted that its offices were among those searched, while it has opened an internal probe of its procurement and real estate sales, and also suspended payments to entities targeted by the authorities.

Following the raids last week, Alexandre Fonseca, the group’s co-chief executive and chairman of its units in the US and Portugal, has temporarily stepped down to “fully protect and safeguard” Altice as the investigation continues.

Portugal Telecom was acquired by Altice in 2014 from Oi for around €5.79 billion. Altice's Portuguese unit is reportedly close to selling its Covilhã data center in Portugal to Horizon Equity for €100 million ($107.8m). Horizon’s previous investments include a majority Portuguese tower company Omtel – which was carved out of Altice and sold in 2019. Altice's remaining 25 percent stake in Omtel was sold to Cellnex in 2020.