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No Milan takeover deal probe says prosecutor as Berlusconi hits out

Gab Marcotti evaluates the performances of Serie A's biggest clubs in the first half of the season as the Scudetto race heats up.

Milan's chief prosecutor Francesco Greco has denied a report that the deal that saw Silvio Berlusconi's investment company sell AC Milan to a Chinese consortium is under investigation.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that financial investigators had identified possible suspicious activity in the €740 million deal.

On Saturday, the newspaper said prosecutors suspecting money laundering had opened a secret investigation into the April 2017 sale.

But Greco said: "There is no investigation for suspected money laundering, not even as a fact-finding dossier. The news about Berlusconi being investigated is absolutely false."

These reports -- which were also published by the Genoa-based newspaper Il Secolo XIX -- have been condemned by Milan president Li Yonghong, who would not rule out taking legal action against them.

"AC Milan S.p.A., and myself as injured party of this unfortunate and unacceptable media campaign based on speculations and misleading information, reserve the right to take all necessary legal actions to protect at best the image, the reputation and the financial solidity of AC Milan and of the reference group," he said in a statement published on the Italian club's website.

"[The] AC Milan purchase process has always been carried out with the utmost transparency, compliance with regulations and correctness, with the support and advice of international financial and legal advisors. All procedures were followed in full compliance with the laws and practices in force.

"All financial institutions, sports organizations and authorities involved received the documentation, either required or requested, to assess and approve both the 'closing' process and the qualifications of the new Property now managing the Team. What I have read these days absolutely does not reflect the reality of facts."

Speaking in a TV interview on Sunday, Berlusconi said: "All I want to note, and this has always been the case, is that whenever there is an electoral campaign where I am running as candidate and likely to win, there is a flurry of denigratory campaigns towards me.

"This invented news about the sale of AC Milan, which has been denied by the chief prosecutor of Milan, is absolutely untrue and particularly unbelievable.

"I don't, but even if I had offshore money to bring back, I would never transfer it back during a sale the spotlights of the entire world are focusing on. That would be plain stupid."

La Stampa reported that, in July, Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo Ghedini had delivered documents to the prosecutor highlighting the "legitimate provenance of the money" as certified by two international banks.

In line with anti-money laundering laws, the Bank of Italy had conducted its own investigation, La Stampa said.

It reported that the findings were sent to Milan deputy prosecutor Fabio de Pasquale before Christmas.

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