The public prosecutor of Milan has accused the well - known, Italian politician, Luca Volontè - the former leader of the (Christian) Union of the Center and of the European People's Party of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - of accepting large bribes from representatives of the Azerbaijani government, reports Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera.
According to Italian newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and Milanese officials, the money was transferred by English companies Polux Management LP and Hillux Service LP and through the Estonian branch of Danske Bank into the accounts of Italian companies LGV and the Novae Terrae Foundation, both of which can be traced back to Luca Volontè.
The newspaper cites in particular extracts from documents of the prosecutor's office, in which it is stated that: "during meetings in Azerbaijan and Strasbourg, Volonte promised support for the political positions of the foreign State for money" and conducted "short and long - term political initiatives".
This 'support' manifested in the form of clout and influence used by Volonte in a vote put to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the "Strasser" report - an investigation into the situation of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, of which 85 were counted and named. On June 23rd, 2013, the Assembly voted 128 - 79 to reject the report as unfounded and, as Volonte put it at the time, a report for which "the delegates of some countries had serious doubts."
Volonte's lawyers, Alessandro Pistocchini and Domenico Pulitano, have responded that: "the charges made, other than being unfounded in law, are not reflective of the investigation and are founded upon a highly erratic interpretation of the political relationships legitimately made and held by Luca Volonte with his colleagues in the Council of Europe." The lawyers are preparing a legal response which "will hopefully prevent an unnecessary trial."
It is, however, expected that the politician will soon be called to court.
Volonte has been chosen four times as a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament from amongst the centralist parties.