Fraudsters in Italy used fake documents to purchase a villa in the name of Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, a Russian diplomat in Milan told RIA Novosti.
Italian news agency Ansa earlier said Interros holding chairman Potanin bought the Carpeneto villa near Porto Maurizio on Ligurian Riviera for 4.5 million euros ($6.4 million) after winning a special auction, but Interros refuted the reports.
"We are talking about a full-on scam. Unknown people falsified the entire package of documents to participate in the auction to purchase the Carpeneto villa," Russian Consul General Alexei Paramonov said Wednesday.
"The documents were printed on fake letterhead of Russia's consulate general in Milan. The power of attorney for the consulate general to present these documents on behalf of Potanin was also faked. In addition, a copy of a fake passport in Potanin's name was attached," he told RIA Novosti.
Ansa corrected its own report on Wednesday, citing an Interros spokesman who said Potanin "did not participate in the auction, had no intention to buy any villa in Liguria and has no real estate in Italy."
The authorities in the city of Imperia, which owns the villa, only learned of fraud when they contacted the Russian consulate. They are considering passing the matter to Italian prosecutors.
Paramonov also said he intends to push Italian authorities for an investigation into the fraud.
ROME, January 21 (RIA Novosti)