September 04, 2007 05:00 PM

Madonna is again refuting claims that her adoption of David Banda was expedited thanks to her celebrity status.

A statement released Tuesday by her spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, said, “The plans to finalize the adoption of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s son David are proceeding as outlined almost a year ago – the day the Malawian Government granted them their ‘interim’ adoption. There has been absolutely no interference with government officials or use of Madonna’s ‘celebrity’ to speed up this adoption as reported.”

The statement continues: “All appropriate legal requirements are being followed, including a home visit. Madonna and her entire family look forward to being granted the final adoption early next year – 18 months following the original interim adoption order.”

News reports originating in Malawi had earlier suggested that the adoption process might suffer a setback after the country’s chief welfare officer, Penstone Kilembe, was removed from the case before he could assess David’s life in London, because of the possibility that he had solicited money from Madonna in order to pay for his trip.

Last year, Madonna, 49, and husband Ritchie, 38, were granted temporary custody to take David, then 13 months, to London after his biological father, Yohane Banda, had placed the boy in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

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