The billionaire founder behind one of the world’s largest telecommunications firms says he feels “betrayed and deceived” by a small group of executives who are at the center of a widespread criminal corruption probe.
On a conference call with investors this week, Altice founder and chairman Patrick Drahi said the allegations concerning his Portugal-based business came as a “shock,” and that if they are revealed as true, it meant some of his most-trusted executives had “carefully hidden their actions from me, their colleagues and the total group.”
Last month, Altice placed several high-level executives on leave after police in Portugal and France raided several homes and offices in connection with the probe. Armando Pereira, one of the company’s co-founders, was arrested by police on accusations of corruption and remains on house arrest. Alexandre Fonseca, the chairman of Altice’s U.S.-based operation, has not been accused of any wrongdoing but took a leave of absence in July amid reports that parts of the investigation concerned his alleged activities.
Specific details of the corruption probe have not been made public, but they reportedly involve suppliers connected to Altice’s business in Portugal, where it offers a variety of telecommunications services.
On Tuesday, Altice reiterated it was cooperating with authorities in Portugal and elsewhere as the investigation continues. The company also said it had launched its own internal probes, and has already identified some problematic business deals in other countries where it operates.
Drahi said the ongoing criminal investigation should not have a material impact on Altice’s cash on hand or guidance through the end of the calendar year.
“I believe that our governance was good and that we can trust all of our management teams,” Drahi affirmed, adding that he intends to continue holding investor meetings in London and New York as planned. Those meetings are scheduled for September.