The Austrian accreditation body Akkreditierung Austria has ignored a complaint filed against it alleging it violated EU sanctions by allowing its mark to be used on ISO certificates issued to the Russian defense firm, Rostec.
Oxebridge filed the complaint alleging AA violated EU sanctions and overlooked the fact that one of its accredited certification bodies, Quality Austria, had certified its own Russian regional office, which is also owned by Rostec. That office then certified other Rostec companies, in violation of rules against conflicts of interest.
Oxebridge simultaneously filed the complaint in the IAQG OASIS database, since many of the certificates issued were for the aerospace and defense certification AS9100. Akkreditierung Austria also ignored that complaint.
ISO 17011, under which Akkreditierung Austria operates, requires accreditation bodies to acknowledge complaints and provide updates on their status.
AA refused to provide a simple acknowledgment nor provide any updates, despite requests to do so. The matter has now been formally escalated to two International Accreditation Forum (IAF) regional bodies: the European Co-Operation for Accreditation (EA) and the Asian Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC.) These bodies are tasked with overseeing Akkreditierung Austria, and enforce its compliance with ISO 17011. While Akkreditierung Austria holds its headquarters in Austria, making it subject to EA, its activities in Russian would fall under the Asian region, governed by APAC.
EAS has confirmed receipt of the complaint and has begun an investigation. To date, APAC has not replied.
Both regional bodies have shown their own inability to overcome conflicts of interest in prior matters. Akkreditierung Austria pays fees to both EA and APAC, injecting a financial threat to their impartiality. In prior complaints, both EA and APAC consistently ruled on the side of the accreditation bodies, ignoring evidence in support of allegations of conflicts of interest.
This will be the second time Akkreditierung Austria was found to have allowed Quality Austria to certify its own regional office, which then certified its own consulting clients. A prior complaint reported that Quality Austria certified its Qatar office, and then allowed them to issue ISO 9001 certificates to clients who received consulting from the same employees of that office. Oxebridge then learned that representatives of both Quality Austria and Akkreditierung Austria received “five-star vacations” in what appears to have been a bribe. The matter is now before an Austrian court, which is weighing criminal charges. In that case, EA ignored the evidence entirely in order to clear Akkreditierung Austria. The IAF refused to take up the matter entirely.
The latest Rostec scandal is embroiling more oversight bodies within the ISO 9001 and AS9100 certification schemes. Oxebridge has filed an official complaint with the US Treasury Department alleging the IAF itself violated OFAC sanctions against Rostec. In a rare move, the IAF now says it is processing the matter; in the 20 years that Oxebridge has alerted IAF of CB and AB violations, it has never opened a single complaint. Executives within the IAF could face criminal penalties if OFAC determines it violated US sanctions against Rostec.
Oxebridge is also preparing to file a report with Belgian authorities against the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), which oversees the AS9100 certification scheme. Multiple Rostec defense companies, including those manufacturing military technology that would later be used against Europe in the event of an armed conflict, are listed in IAQG’s OASIS database as having AS9100 certifications. Oxebridge argues that by allowing Rostec companies to hold AS9100, the IAQG is empowering enemies of the US and EU, and violating the international sanctions.
Rostec and its chief executive are under sanctions for their role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and forced annexation of Crimea. Quality Austria and Akkreditierung Austria are featured prominently in the Russian government’s pro-Crimea business propaganda.