The three men reportedly were heard describing Mr Salvini as the “European Trump”. BuzzFeed News gained the recording of the meeting with former Mr Salvini spokesman Gianluca Savoini and two other Italians. Newsweek reports if the discussion was followed through with, it would have broken Italian laws on party financing.
A discussion on Russia supporting the supposed far-right can be heard and one of the men can be heard describing Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister as the de facto leader of European nationalists and populists.
It is not known if the payment believed to be concerning an oil deal worth tens of millions went through, though Mr Salvini is reported to have been in Moscow at the time but it is unknown if he was aware of the meeting.
Still, one of the as yet unidentified Russians is believed to have said: “He is Italian, not Italian, but the European Trump, because he has now become the head of all the ultra-right.”
The Italians, according to the transcript, joked about sending dissidents to gulags for “mental rehabilitation”.
Mr Salvini says no money has come through to Lega from the three Russians and described the article as “all words and blablabla”.
Mr Salvini is also minister of the interior under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the independent head of a coalition government between Lega and the Five Star Movement.
Of the Conte Cabinet, 5 ministers are independent, six are Lega politicians and eight are from Five Star.
The two parties hold 165 seats and are supported by a further six, giving them a slender majority of ten.
The popularity of Lega is rising and they are hopeful they can increase their 58 Senate seats to the 161 needed for a majority.
Mr Salvani has gained notoriety for his anti-immigration views.
He has refused to allow vessels carrying migrants and refugees rescued from the Mediterranean Sea dock at Italian ports.
Lega holds 123 of the 630 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 28 of Italy’s 73 seats in the European Parliament.