Altice co-founder’s defense repudiates “widespread attack” with ‘Operation Picoas’

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Armando Pereira’s defense today repudiated the “widespread attack in Portugal” on the co-founder of Altice because of the ‘Operation Picoas’ process, in which the Public Ministry (MP) investigates alleged crimes of corruption, tax fraud, money laundering and forgery.

“The communication around this operation was done in such a way that it led to him being immediately considered guilty in public opinion. It is therefore time for the defense to demonstrate that the reality is not so simple and that it is very different from what has been conveyed,” said lawyers Pedro Marinho Falcão, Manuel Magalhães e Silva and Jean Tamalet, in a note sent to Lusa.

Underlining that the investigation “will be long and thorough”, the defense of the co-founder of Altice expressed his expectation for the “full clarification of the facts and determination of respective responsibility” in this process, which also has as defendants Hernâni Vaz Antunes (considered Armando Pereira’s ‘right arm’), economist Álvaro Gil Loureiro and Jéssica Antunes, daughter of Hernâni Vaz Antunes and alleged ‘iron forehead’ of several companies.

Armando Pereira is expected to begin being questioned by Judge Carlos Alexandre at the Central Criminal Investigation Court on Wednesday, with the defense assuring “full spirit of cooperation” of the co-founder of Altice and that “everything will do to help the judicial authorities”.

According to the MP’s Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP), the operation triggered on July 13, which led to three arrests, included about 90 home and non-home searches, including company premises and law firms in various parts of the country. Hernâni Vaz Antunes was the fourth defendant to be arrested, but this occurred only on the 15th, after he surrendered to the authorities.

At stake is allegedly a “vitiation of the Altice Group’s decision-making process, in terms of contracting, with practices harmful to the companies of that group and to competition”, which point to private corruption in active and passive form. The authorities also point out that at the tax level the State will have been defrauded of a sum “in excess of 100 million euros”.

The investigation also indicates the existence of evidence of “abusive use of the reduced taxation applied in terms of IRC in the Madeira Free Zone” through the fictitious tax domiciliation of people and companies. The MP believes that offshore companies have also been used, indicating the crimes of money laundering and forgery.

In the searches, DCIAP revealed that documents and objects were seized, “such as luxury vehicles and exclusive models with an estimated value of around €20 million”.

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