Rome's grassroots mayor Virginia Raggi and her former cabinet chief Salvatore Romeo had a physical relationship, the city council's urban planning chief was quoted as telling Italian daily La Stampa on Wednesday.
"They really are foolish. In my view they were lovers. I suspected it from the very beginning," Paolo Berdini was cited as telling La Stampa in an interview. Berdini denies the remarks in which he was also quoted as saying Raggi was "unprepared" for the job, had "surrounded herself by a gang" and that Rome city council was "a moral abyss".
Prosecutors are probing Raggi and Romeo for abuse of office over his hiring after he allegedly took out a 30,000 euro insurance policy in Raggi's name in January last year, six months before she appointed him and almost tripled his previous salary.
Raggi and Romeo deny wrongdoing and both claim Raggi did not know about the life insurance policy.
Beppe Grillo, leader of the Five-Star movement to which Raggi belongs forced Raggi to sack Romeo in late December as well as her then- deputy mayor Daniele Frongia.
Raggi is also under investigation for abuse of office and false testimony over her appointment of Renato Marra, brother of the graft-tainted former city council personnel chief Raffaele Marra, as Rome tourism chief.
Renato Marra and Raffaele Marra were both fired in December after the former was arrested on corruption charges- Raggi’s environment councillor Paola Muraro stood down the same month over alleged malpractice.
Raggi's legal woes come just weeks after the Five-Star Movement to which she belongs said it would not require its politicians who are put under legal investigation to automatically resign.
But the stream of graft and cronyism allegations that have hit Raggi's administration are a deep embarrassment to the Five-Star Movement, which presents itself as a squeaky-clean alternative to the country's graft-plagued traditional parties.