According to a report by Bloomberg, backed up by Reuters, Italian financial police have begun informally investigating the sale of AC Milan by Silvio Berlusconi to a pair of Chinese businessmen, including Yonghong Li.
The sale was completed from Berlusconi’s company Finivest to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux back in April for a reported $907 million, and now Italy’s Guardia di Finanza have opened preliminary investigative proceedings to determine whether formal charges should be brought against the parties. The report states they are investigating whether the sale was used to mask “illicit cash flows.” The sale reportedly included around $270 million of debt.
According to the Reuters report, while no official investigation has been opened yet, a 10-page document was delivered to the prosecutor’s office near the end of December. The report most likely contains flags raised by the banks as to the transactions, which they are required to submit if there is “reasonable cause to suspect” financial crimes. The Bank of Italy compiles those complaints and submits them to the Guardia di Finanza.
This news was initially reported by a pair of Italian papers on January 13th, to which Berlusconi responded in a statement, “The falsification made today by two newspapers — La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX — leaves us indignant and astonished for its severity.”
Bloomberg states the proceedings by the Guardia di Finanza are at this stage “routine…reviews of cross-border transactions.”