Political storm over allegations Salvini’s party took money from Russians
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini denied a media report that his League party had sought millions of euros from Russian investors via a secret oil deal.
The U.S. website Buzzfeed said it had received an audio recording of talks in Moscow in October among three Italians including a close aide of Salvini, Gianluca Savoini, and three unidentified Russian men.
Savoini is a former spokesman for Salvini who heads a pro-Russia cultural association.
During their 75-minute meeting, the six men discussed a possible deal involving a Russian company selling oil worth some $1.5 billion at a discount to enable the League to pocket part of the difference, Buzzfeed said.
There was no evidence the transaction took place, the website reported.
Salvini had been in Moscow at the same time as the alleged meeting in a city hotel, but there was no suggestion he took part in the discussions. He denied on Wednesday that his party had received any illicit funding.
Salvini has looked to forge close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has paid several visits to Moscow in recent years.
Putin visited Rome last week and praised Salvini.