FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - A court in Florence has opened an investigation into the expenses claims filed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when he was mayor of the city between 2009 and 2014, a judicial source said on Tuesday.
The accounting court, which has responsibility for ensuring a correct use of public funds, acted following press reports that Renzi had regularly claimed reimbursement for restaurant meals taken with family and friends.
Asked about his expenses in a radio interview on Tuesday Renzi denied any wrongdoing, saying it was "obvious" there was no substance to suggestions he had acted improperly.
Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino, a member of Renzi's Democratic Party, resigned this week over reports he had wrongly filed his expenses for seven restaurant meals. Renzi distanced himself from Marino, saying he had "lost the confidence of the Romans".
Il Fatto Quotidiano cited official documents which, it said, showed that during his 2004-2009 term as president of Florence's provincial government Renzi spent some 600,000 euros ($682,740) in restaurants and catering using an official credit card.
That compared with 20,000 euros that Marino spent on his official credit card in his two-and-a-half years as Rome's mayor. Marino paid back the entire sum last week in an attempt to silence controversy.
After the court has finished its initial investigation it will ask Renzi to provide his version of the events, the source said. It will then have 120 days to decide whether to drop the case or call the prime minister to face a trial.
(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Crispian Balmer and Ralph Boulton)