The self-accredited certificate mill American Global Standards is being marketed in Iran, in possible violation of US sanctions against that country, and a potential felony violation the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations.
Operated by Stephen Keneally of Montecito CA, AGS is thought to be the largest self-accredited ISO 9001 certificate mill in the world. It claims accreditation by another company, “AIAO-BAR” which is also operated by Keneally. This joint ownership of both companies violates internationally-recognized rules on the accreditation of ISO certification bodies. Certification bodies which are either unaccredited or self-accredited are known as ‘certificate mills,” much in the way unaccredited universities are known as “diploma mills.”
The marketing of AGS includes at least one office in Tehran. This would appear to violate the OFAC sanctions against that country. Mr. Keneally has denied any operation of activities in Iran, stating, “AGS does not operate in IRAN-period. We have no franchise or licensing arrangement with any Iranians in Iran or anywhere else. We have issued no certificates in Iran.”
He added a curious clarification, however, hinting that his office in Pakistan may be operating in Iran without permission.
We have instructed our Pakistani office in writing that AGS cannot do business in Iran. AGS has never received any compensation related to Iran or any Iranian companies.
If the Pakistan office of AGS is operating in Iran, a private denunciation may not be enough to ensure Mr. Keneally avoids prosecution by the US Dept. of Treasury under OFAC regulations. If AGS received any licensing, franchise or other funds from the Pakistan office, and such funds came from Iranian revenue, it may be sufficient enough to count as a violation of OFAC.
Making matters worse, despite his private denunciations to Oxebridge, Mr. Keneally has made no public statements distancing AGS from the Iranian marketing, and he continues to benefit from that marketing.
Civil penalties for violation of OFAC can exceed $280,000, with criminal penalties levied after conviction of up to $1,000,000 plus 20 years imprisonment.
In addition, AGS appears to market in Yemen, another country subject to OFAC restrictions. AGS also markets in Iraq, Afghanistan and other “hot spot” countries with dubious relationships with the US.
The website at agscertificate.com appears to be from American Global Standards, and even includes contact information for Mr. Keneally’s office in the United States, even as that site advertises a branch office in Tehran. That site includes the logo for AIAO-BAR as well.
AGS’s official US website is located at americanglobal.org which is linked to from the Iranian website, providing evidence that AGS is at least being marketing on the same site as that marketing the office in Iran.
Despite the claim that AGS does not operate in Iran, multiple companies have been issued ISO 9001 certificates in that country with the AGS and AIOA-BAR logos. These include Tehran Municipality Region No. 16 and Kermanshah Petrochemical Industrial Company.
Mr. Keneally claims privately that the certificates issued to Iranian companies are fake, and bear a fraudulent signature. Accredited CBs normally will issue firm statements denouncing fraudulent certificates found using their logos, but AGS has not done so.
AGS sells “Virtual Cert,” whereby Mr. Keneally provides ISO 9001 and other certificates to companies without any on-site audit at all. AGS offers this service to medical device manufacturers as well.
AGS was previously sued by ANAB (then RAB) for illegal use of their logo.