Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini denied allegations that his League Party received any money from Russia after news website BuzzFeed published what it said was a transcript of a meeting between Salvini’s close aide Gianluca Savoini and Russian officials to that end.
The alleged meeting is said to have taken place at the Metropol hotel in Moscow on October 18.
BuzzFeed identified Salvini’s aide as Savoini and said the meeting was evidence of collusion between Russia and far-right European parties.
The online news website said Savoini and two other Italians discussed how to funnel money from the deal into the League’s coffers with three unidentified Russians.
However, the news site noted it was never made clear whether the deal went ahead or if the League received any funding.
Savoini told Euronews correspondent Giorgia Orlandi that “there was never such a meeting,” adding that he went to the Metropol hotel to meet with local entrepreneurs.
He also said that he felt confident and calm and that he has never acted “illegally”.
He added that his lawyers were ready to file a lawsuit against whoever is spreading such allegations.
This is not the first time there is talk about a secret meeting taking place between Russian investors and Salvini’s close aides at the Metropol hotel. Italian news magazine L’Espresso made the allegations back in February but lacked any hard evidence to prove them.
The deal would entail a Russian company selling three million metric tonnes of fuel to Italian oil company Eni over a year and the League getting part of that sale.