The change of president of the OLAF supervisory board has nothing to do with any actions of OLAF, a spokesman for the office said this morning.

This was confirmed in the afternoon by a statement issued by Johan Denolf, the chairman of the OLAF Supervisory Committee.

In the statement, Mr Denolf said that  on October 17, the supervisory committee was formally informed of the existence of the Dalli case and of OLAF's director general intention to transfer it to the national judicial authorities of Malta.

Immediately thereafter, a member of the supervisory committee, Rita Schembri, withdrew from any of the work of the supervisory committee which might refer to that case to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

This was because the Maltese Internal Audit and Investigations Department, whcih fell under her portfolio as permanent secretary, had assisted OLAF in a part of that investigation conducted in Malta, as required by the administrative cooperation arrangement between the department and OLAF.

It was reported yesterday that Christiaan Timmermans, resigned from the presidency over alleged breach of procedure in the office's handling of the John Dalli case. Mr Dalli himself had invited journalists to investigate what was happening in the board.

"(New) president Denolf has informed the Director-General of OLAF, Mr G. Kessler, that the change of President has nothing to do with any actions of OLAF", spokesman Johan Wullt said.

He added that the resignation can in no way change the contents or conclusions of the (Dalli) report.

OLAF is the EU's anti-fraud office which investigated trading in influence claims involving John Dalli. Mr Dalli was asked to resign from the European Commission on the basis of its report.

"OLAF has finalised its report on the Dalli case and delivered it to the relevant authorities. The change of president of the supervisory committee can in no way change the contents or conclusions of that report," Mr Wullt said. 

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