The accreditation body Akkreditierung Austria has closed a formal complaint filed against it alleging ties to Rostec, a Russian defense firm under sanctions by the US and EU. Responding to a formal complaint filed by Oxebridge in the aerospace OASIS database, Akkreditierung Austria falsely claimed that the matter had been fully addressed by one of its accredited certification bodies, Quality Austria, using that as justification for refusing to allow the matter to proceed, or launch an internal investigation.
Akkreditierung Austria (AA) accredits numerous ISO certification bodies, including Quality Austria, and has been found to be at the center of a number of international scandals. A prior complaint filed against AA and Quality Austria alleged that officials from both bodies accepted “5-star vacations” as bribes to overlook a decade-long conflict of interest in which Quality Austria’s Qatar office, “Quality Austria Gulf,” was found to have been certifying its own consulting clients. That matter is now before the Austrian courts, which are weighing criminal charges against the parties.
Nearly identical problems were uncovered when whistleblowers reported to Oxebridge the details of AA’s relationship with Rostec. In that case, Quality Austria appears to have violated EU sanctions by partnering with Rostec, and then engaging in a tangled mix of conflicts of interest. Mirroring the Qatar scandal, Quality Austria first issued an ISO 9001 certificate to a Rostec subsidiary that then provides ISO 9001 consulting, and which later certifies its own clients under the Quality Austria banner. That company, RT Tech Priemka, then issued itself an ISO 17011 certificate, making itself an accreditation body that went on to falsely “accredit” a number of other Russian certification bodies. RT Tech Priemka then provided certification to its own consulting clients, as well as other Rostec companies. The work done by Quality Austria was all under the accreditation banner of Akkreditierung Austria, which is tasked — under ISO accreditation rules and EU regulations — to manage Quality Austria in such dealings.
In their marketing, Rostec companies use the names of both Quality Austria and Akkreditierung Austria to market their services as having international authority. Rostec also boasts of its ties to IQNet, another accreditation group that is under investigation for violation of EU sanctions.
Rostec’s chief executive is subject to EU sanctions for his role in the forced annexation of Crimea by Russia. Rostec is under US sanctions as a corporation.
Not content with issuing ISO 9001 certificates, Rostec then began issuing AS9100 certifications for the aerospace industry. Oxebridge filed a formal complaint with AA, which went ignored for weeks. Because the problem included AS9100 certifications, Oxebridge was then able to re-file the complaint within the AS9100 central database, known as OASIS, which is managed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG). In response to that complaint, Akkreditierung Austria representative Heinz Toemboel falsely claimed that Quality Austria had previously responded to Oxebridge on the matter, and shut down the matter entirely.
The full response by Toemboel appeared in OASIS as follows:
Akkreditierung Austria has started the complaint process on June 7, 2021 and requested a detailed response from quality austria and a statement within 14 days. The response to the submitted complaint was received from quality austria on June 21, 2021. All questions were fully answered by quality austria to the complainant on June 17, 2021. From the point of view of Accreditation Austria, the complaint has thus been settled no further investigations are needed and can be closed.
Quality Austria had cut off all communication with Oxebridge since the Qatar scandal, over a year ago. Furthermore, Oxebridge filed its complaint directly with Akkreditierung Austria, and not with Quality Austria at all; this was because Akkreditierung Austria itself is at the heart of the Rostec scandal, allowing its logo and name to be used by various Rostec companies, and holding final authority over Quality Austria’s activities in the matter.
Oxebridge never received any communication at all from Quality Austria on the Rostec complaint, as Quality Austria has maintained its communications blackout since the Qatar report.
The OASIS filing is also notable for how it shows Toemboel ignoring entirely the allegations made against Akkreditierung Austria itself, thus potentially allowing the accreditation body to continue to violate EU sanctions at will.
Akkreditierung Austria is a department within the official Austrian government, the Bundesministerium Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort, and is therefore subject to multiple EU and Austrian laws. That Bureau has also refused to investigate the complaints made against Akkreditierung Austria and its officials, leading to the current court battle.
While Austria has taken public stances against the Russian incursion into Crimea, its government has been found to have engaged in multiple actions that align with Russia and Vladimir Putin, undermining EU solidarity on the matter.
Akkreditierung Austria is a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), which is also alleged to be violating the US and EU sanctions for its support of Rostec. The IAF promised to open an internal investigation, but has provided no further information. The IAF regional body, the European Co-Operation for Accreditation (EA) has also promised to look into the Akkreditierung Austria matter.
Both the IAF and EA previously ruled in Akkreditierung Austria’s favor on the Qatar issue, ignoring the evidence presented to them. Violations of official government sanctions may be more difficult to support, however.
Oxebridge has filed complaints with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and DEpt. of Treasuring, alleging its support of Rostec violates US “OFAC” sanctions.
Oxebridge will now pursue additional complaints against Akkreditierung Austria and the Bundesministerium Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort with Austrian governmental watchdog agencies.