Italian lothario and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has lashed out at reports that women were paid to spend the night at his home by announcing he has "never paid for a woman."
Berlusconi made the comments to Italian gossip magazine Chi in response to claims by a former model, Patrizia D'Addario, that she had been paid to attend his private parties.
Calling the reports "trash" the Italian prime minister hit back by saying D'Addario had been paid to smear him.
''Behind Patrizia D'Addario is someone who is out to get me and she (Patrizia) has been paid well, they have a deliberate campaign against me," he charged.
In a statement to the ANSA news agency, D'Addario denied she had been paid to create a scandal.
But the 42-year-old showgirl has caused a stir claiming to have spent the night at the premier's house and that she has pictures allegedly showing Berlusconi's bedroom as well as secretly recorded video and audio tapes of their encounters.
Berlusconi scoffed at her allegations.
"I've never paid for a woman. I don't understand what satisfaction there is unless it's linked to the happiness of winning someone over," he said.
But since D'Addario went public, two other women have come forward with similar stories involving Berlusconi.
D'Addario has now given her tapes to prosecutors in the southern Italian town of Bari who are investigating the claims that these women were paid to attend parties at the prime minister's residence.
A businessman in Bari, Giampaolo Tarantini, is under investigation for alleged links to prostitution and delivering the women to Berlusconi's home.
Tarantini claims to have merely reimbursed the women for their travel and expenses and maintains that Berlusconi didn't know these expenses were paid.
In the magazine interview Berlusconi would not be drawn into commenting on the Tarantini investigation, saying, like every other Italian citizen, he was innocent until proven guilty.
Despite the recent flurry of newspaper reports and questions surrounding Berlusconi's "friendships" with young women, the Italian prime minister remains unrepentant.
Berlusconi Says He Has No Need to Apologize
"I have nothing to be sorry about, I don't have to apologize to anyone. There is nothing in my private life for which I have to apologize," he told the magazine.
Two months ago Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario very publicly filed for divorce, saying that her husband was "unwell" and implied that his attraction to beautiful younger women was causing him to make bad decisions.
Lario sent an open letter to an Italian newspaper criticizing her husband's choice of female candidates for the recent European elections as unqualified. She also bitterly complained that while he had attended the 18th birthday party of a young teenage model, Noemi Letizia, in Naples, he never bothered to attend those of his own children.
Berlusconi has insisted there was nothing scandalous in his relationship with Letizia, whom he has said was the daughter of an old friend from political circles. He said he went to the party because he happened to be in Naples that day.
In the interview with Chi, which Berlusconi owns, he was quoted as saying that he was "sad, but serene," over the end of his relationship with his wife.
"It was a very painful wound. I don't know if time will be able to cure it," he was quoted as saying in the interview provided in advance by Chi.
A large number of newspapers and Italian television stations are owned by Berlusconi, and as head of the government, he controls the state channels he doesn't own. Even so, whispers about his alleged affairs with younger women refuse to die down, with the latest story about D'Addario's video recordings adding further fuel to the fire.
But despite the scandals and criticism in local and international media, Berlusconi's political popularity has so far remained largely untouched. The 72 year-old Cavaliere (or knight) as he is known by, led his center-right party to election victory in recent local and European elections.
Lama Hasan, Clark Bentson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.