[Updated Feb 23]

In June of 2011, Bureau Veritas Australia entered into a formal partnership with consulting firm GreenBizCheck, in what was then branded an “alliance” between the Certification Body and the consultant. The arrangement would have Bureau Veritas conduct assessments of GBC clients as part of the unaccredited “GBC Environmental Certification” program. Resulting certificates are issued featuring both the logos of BV and GBC.

However, marketing materials produced by GreenBizCheck then linked the activities of Bureau Veritas with GBC’s ISO 14001 consulting services, claiming that the partnership would result in “a substantially lower cost, streamlined process for clients who wish to obtain ISO 14001 certification” by Bureau Veritas.

Bureau Veritas is accredited by JAS-ANZ to ISO 17021, which specifically prohibits such relationships, on the basis that it creates a conflict of interest which threatens Bureau Veritas’ ability to assess GreenBizCheck’s clients in an objective manner. ISO 17021 also requires an accredited CB to “take action to correct inappropriate claims by any consultancy organization stating or implying that certification would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if the certification body were used.”  GreenBizCheck claims that it consulting services were “jointly developed” between it and Bureau Veritas, something BV has denied.

Screencap of GreenBizCheck web page blurb on it's relationship with Bureau Veritas

Screencap of GreenBizCheck web page blurb on it’s relationship with BV.

The architect of the deal appears to be Bureau Veritas General Manager Andrew Mortimore, who is featured in photos used in official GreenBizCheck press releases announcing the partnership. Four months later, Bureau Veritas awarded GreenBizCheck it’s own ISO 14001 certification, signed by Mr. Mortimore. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Mortimore appeared at an event hosted by GreenBizCheck, to give a presentation promoting Bureau Veritas certification services, standing next to a banner with the logos of both companies.  The presentation was later uploaded to YouTube.

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BV General Manager Andrew Mortimore promoting ISO 14001 certification services at an event co-branded by BV and consultant GreenBizCheck.

Mr. Mortimore has denied that the relationship is improper, and indicated that GBC was not permitted to make the claims about Bureau Veritas’ ISO 14001 certification. Mr. Mortimore claims that BV previously asked GBC to remove the claims, but somehow they resurfaced. They have again asked GBC to remove materials which imply GBC clients gain preferential treatment by BV; as of February 23, some of the materials have been removed.

Furthermore, GreenBizCheck — which operates in the US under the name “EcoBizCheck” — appears to have given multiple presentations on their services, including ISO 14001 consulting, where the slide decks used the logo of Bureau Veritas.

Officials with GreenBizCheck have not responded to requests for comment.

Mr. Mortimore confirmed the relationship between GBC and Bureau Veritas over the GBC-branded Environmental Certification, but said that claims linking it to ISO 14001 only arose “at some point in the last two years.” However, a Facebook post from June 2011 shows GBC began co-marketing its’ Environmental Certification and ISO 14001 activities immediately, going so far as to claim “GreenBizCheck will also be an ISO 14001 certifier.” Web searches show the information linking BV’s ISO 14001 certification services to GBC consulting have been consistently available since the announcement in 2011.

Source: GBC Facebook

Source: GBC Facebook

So far it appears that Mr. Mortimore, along with JAS-ANZ, believe that because GBC Environmental Certification is not tied to ISO 14001 certification, this does not create a conflict of interest. Oxebridge argues that the financial relationship between BV and GreenBizCheck presents an “insurmountable” conflict of interest, since BV cannot objectively assess any GBC client for ISO 14001 without considering that doing so could impact on the revenue gained from its partnership in GBC Environmental Certification. The relationship also raises questions as to the validity of the individual ISO 14001 certificate issued to GreenBizCheck by Bureau Veritas, only months after their business partnership was formed.

Oxebridge is preparing a formal complaint to Bureau Veritas. The complaint is likely to be escalated to JAS-ANZ and then the IAF, which is already processing a similar complaint alleging UKAS failed to ensure BSI did not engage in consulting for its certification clients.

[This article was significantly updated on Feb 23 to add new information, and to correct previous language that alleged Bureau Veritas had co-developed GBC’s consulting program. BV now disavows that, and claims GBC has made the claim improperly.]