The newspapers said magistrates had begun investigating the prime minister for wrongdoings in purchases made by a company that his family owned.

The latest investigation centres around the purchase of television rights for US films in 1994 and 1995 by Mediaset, a company controlled by Berlusconi’s family through offshore firms.

Responding to the reports in the Corriere della Serra and La Republica, Mediaset has said it has not received any notification of the investigation.

It is suspected the purchasing costs for the film rights were inflated by about $170 million.

A businessman-turned-politician, Berlusconi has been investigated in numerous cases connected to his business empire since he entered politics in 1994.

He is already standing trial in a Milan court on a slew of corruption cases, accused of bribing judges to win favourable rulings in a corporate takeover.

Berlusconi’s lawyers, however, dismissed the accusations as baseless and said it was disturbing that newspapers were told about the case first.

“I know these transactions quite well and they were totally transparent and they cant refer to Silvio Berlusconi because, in any case, he stepped down from all his company positions in 1993,” said Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini.

Maintaining his innocence throughout, Berlusconi has insisted the accusations are politically motivated.