Bolzano, October 19 - The regional prosecutor of Italy's Audit Court in the northern autonomous province of Bolzano has opened an investigation into the possible misuse of a personal fund by the Provincial President Luis Durnwalder of the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP). The probe began in light of reports filed concerning a birthday party held by the leader last year. "The fund can be used at the discretion of the president according to criteria that he doesn't have to answer to," said the prosecutor Robert Schuelmers. "However it is clear that, being public money, it must be used within the scope of his institutional activity". Schuelmers said instead there was evidence to suggest the fund had been used to cover personal expenses such as medical treatments, dental check-ups and flights, "even though it seems Durnwalder paid back part of what had been taken at the end of each month". Durnwalder has denied the allegations. "I have not used a single euro of the fund for my own private expenses," he told ANSA. "My secretary advances the money and then the expenses are added up and recorded at the end of each month. My private expenses are deducted on that occasion," he said. Should the claims turn out to be founded Durnwalder could face charges of embezzlement. This is just the latest in a series of investigations involving the alleged misuse of public funds in numerous Italian regions, including Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.