Rome's top court on Tuesday ruled there was no reason not to seize funds from Italy's right-wing League party, Italy's ANSA news agency reported. Prosecutors last year had requested more than €49 million ($57 million) from the party — originally named the Northern League — after its founder, Umberto Bossi, and a former party treasurer were convicted of financial irregularities. The charges relate to transactions which took place between 2008-2010.
League lawmaker Giulio Centemero decried Tuesday's ruling, citing the party's "total transparency and honesty." According to Italy's La Repubblica, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who now heads the League party, said: "49 million isn't much, I'll make a collection. It is a politically motivated process based on facts that are ten years old and money I have never seen. I can get the money selling T-shirts, caps and french fries."
Bossi — once a key ally of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — was found guilty in a 2017 trial in Milan of using hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds to pay personal expenses during his time as head of the party. He was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for the offense, while his son, Renzo, was also convicted and given an 18-month prison sentence. Former Northern League treasurer Francesco Belsito received the longest sentence of the three: two years and six months behind bars.
The trial also found €200,000 ($228,000) in funds provided to political parties by the state was used to pay Bossi's family expenses, including travel, dinners, education fees, hotel accommodation and expensive cars.
Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini now heads the party, which he renamed the League after he took over in 2013.