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Italian minister under investigation in procurement probe

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Sports Minister Luca Lotti is under investigation as part of a probe relating to contracts handled by public procurement agency Consip, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Lotti, who is one of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's closest allies, met prosecutors in Rome on Tuesday at his own request and denied any wrongdoing, his lawyer said.

The former cabinet undersecretary took up the ministerial post in the new government which was formed following Renzi's resignation earlier this month.

Lotti is suspected of revealing official secrets, the source said. The current investigation is an offshoot of a broader one which started with a case of suspected corruption relating to a contract worth more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.6 billion).

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Asked whether his client was suspected of revealing official secrets, lawyer Franco Coppi said: "that is the hypothesis, it's obvious", and added that no formal accusation had been made.

In a Facebook post on Dec. 23, Lotti said a newspaper had reported that he was under investigation and added he was traveling to Rome where he would ask to meet magistrates immediately.

"This is something that simply does not exist," Lotti wrote. "I do not want to leave it hanging."

(Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio; Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Andrew Roche)

 
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