MILAN (Reuters) – Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible international corruption following media reports that the ruling League party sought millions of euros via a secret Russian oil deal, two sources said on Thursday.
League leader Matteo Salvini, who serves as both deputy prime minister and interior minister in the government, has denied that his party received any money from Moscow.
News - Magazine - L'Espresso - February - Salvini
Italian news magazine L’Espresso reported in February that Salvini’s former spokesman Gianluca Savoini had held talks in Moscow last October with Russian businessmen about a possible oil deal that would enable funds to be siphoned to the League.
Savoini denied the allegations at the time. The U.S. website Buzzfeed said on Wednesday it had received an audio recording of the Moscow meeting and published a transcript where Savoini can be heard discussing a covert oil transaction.
Savoini - Media - Thursday - Group - Businessmen
Savoini told the Italian media on Thursday that he had met a group of unnamed businessmen but denies any wrongdoing and says the League did not receive any money from the Russians.
Two sources with knowledge of the case told Reuters magistrates opened their probe following the publication of the article in L’Espresso.
Sources - Investigators - Recording - Buzzfeed - Story
One of the sources said investigators were aware of the audio recording before Buzzfeed published its story.
Contacted by Reuters, Savoini declined to comment on news of the judicial investigation, which is being overseen by Fabio De Pasquale, who heads a team of magistrates pursuing international economic cases.
Law - Forbids - Parties - Donations - Entities
Italian law forbids parties from accepting donations from foreign entities and the opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has demanded that Salvini...
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