Investigators look into possible scheme between Russia, Italian party

Prosecutors in Milan have opened an investigation into possible charges of international corruption, amid fresh claims that representatives from Matteo Salvini’s League party discussed a funding scheme with Russia to plug a black hole in the League’s finances, according to a person briefed on the investigation.

The prosecutors’ inquiries date back to February of this year, when two Italian reporters claimed that an associate of Salvini’s met with unidentified Russians in Moscow’s Metropol hotel and discussed a deal in which Russia would sell 3 million tonnes of diesel to an Italian oil company, from which money could be diverted to replenish the League party’s coffers.

The claims were published in a book entitled “The Black Book of the League.” This week Buzzfeed published an audio tape purportedly from the same meeting.

Earlier today, Italian news agency Ansa reported authorities were now probing the incident, citing Milan’s Chief Prosecutor Francesco Greco as saying “We are carrying out investigations to understand if there are crimes or not.”

Responding to reporters in Rome this week, Salvini, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, said he had “never taken a rouble, a euro, a dollar or a litre of Vodka in financing from the Russians” and that he would continue to dispute such claims vigorously.