The head of the EU’s asylum agency José Carreira, resigned from the post of the executive director of the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

EASO issued a statement on Wednesday “releasing” Mr. Carreira from his duties and in effect forcing his resignation.

Carreira’s resignation follows a probe by the EU’s anti-fraud agency (Olaf) into allegations of procurement rule breaches, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.  Mr Carreira has held his post since the foundation of the agency in 2016 and has categorically denied wrongdoing.

The OLAF Press Office confirmed to New Europe that it has an on-going investigation into suspicions of irregularities occurring at the European Asylum Support Office. “The investigation concerns the Executive Director who recently resigned, as well as other staff. However, as this investigation is on-going, OLAF cannot issue any further comment. This is in order to protect the confidentiality of on-going and possible ensuing investigations, subsequent judicial proceedings, personal data and procedural rights.”

The Secretary General of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles Catherine Woollard said the resignation was not a surprise, given a number of leaks by European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

EASO’s head of unit Jamil Addou will serve an interim executive director.

Mr. Carreira’s resignation comes at a politically sensitive moment, when an increasing number of EU member states are advocating for a tougher approach to Europe’s asylum regime. Among those states are Austria, which is about to assume the Presidency, but also Italy. Other member states would like to see EASO’s to harmonize EU asylum management procedures.

The agency was founded in response to the 2015-2016 crisis, when 2,5 million people applied for refugee status in the EU.