[UPDATE: QMS Global has suspended the certification; see below.]

MS Hi-Tech, whose owner faces 15 years in US federal prison for fraud, still holds ISO 9001 certification a certification body accredited in Mexico.

Michael Montenes pleaded guilty to bribing US government officials in order to obtain $1M in federal contracts, according to a report published by the electronics anti-counterfeit organization ERAI:

Michael Montenes, the owner of Hauppauge-based M.S. Hi-Tech, a distributor of electronic components, pleaded guilty to a charge in connection with a scheme to pay more than $18,000 to a Department of Energy procurement officer in exchange for approximately $969,000 in contracts from that department, according the U.S. Department of Justice.

In addition, officials said that the components Montenes sold to the DOE failed, causing $1.8 million in repairs and other costs to the federal government.

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MS Hi-Tech currently holds an ISO 9001 certificate issued by QMS Global, a former “certificate mill” that previously held accreditation by the fake accreditation body ASCB. At some point, QMS Global achieved “legitimate” accreditation by the Mexican body EMA, which is an IAF member.

ASCB was formed in the UK by Stephen Feltham in what sources say was a protest against the monopoly position held by Britain’s sole accreditation body, UKAS. Feltham then went on to create associated bodies such as IRQAO and Global AF Ltd, which operates as “Global Accreditation Forum,” an apparent attempt to create an alternative to the IAF. The companies that then pursued ASCB accreditation were found to be certificate mills.

EMA is known for being an oasis where certificate mills can go in order to achieve IAF-matrixed accreditation without actually having to comply with ISO 17021-1 rules for certification bodies.

QMS Global is run by Bruce Weber, who claims on his LinkedIn profile to be a former VP at Citi Corp., and who operates the certification body out of Boca Raton FL. It is unusual for a US-based certification body to seek accreditation in Mexico.

The case highlights the increasing commingling of IAF-matrixed, accredited certificates with “mill” certificates issued by self-accredited bodies or without any accreditation at all. IAF membership by an accreditation body is supposed to mean the certification bodies are following all ISO accreditation rules, but more and more it is found that even fully-accredited bodies skirt the rules, while maintaining full IAF-branded accreditation.

IAF members such as IAS (United States), SLAB (Sri Lanka), EMA (Mexico), KAB (Korea), NABCB (India), EIAC (United Arab Emirates), and EGAC (Egypt) have all been found to have issued supposedly-legitimate accreditations to former certificate mills. Some of those bodies then go on to continue to issue ISO certificates in open violation of accreditation rules including, in some cases, for medical products which pose a risk to human health.

The IAF and its regional bodies have refused to take action against the ABs to ensure the validity of ISO certificates, and have ignored cases where certified companies, such as MS Hi-Tech, are involved in highly-publicized crimes or deadly accidents.

In 2022, GNH India was found to be selling fraudulent eucalyptus products marketed as cures for COVID-19, and was ordered by the US Food and Drug Administration to pull the products from the market. The company fought the effort, continuing to sell the fraudulent products in violation of US law, all while holding an ISO 9001 certificate issued by URS, which is accredited by IAF member UKAS. Despite the high-profile nature of the incident and the official FDA actions, URS continues to certify GNH India as of May 2023, attesting to the company’s quality system. UKAS took no action to force URS to withdraw the certificate.

UPDATE 8 May 2023. QMS Global has immediately withdrawn the ISO 9001 certificate issued to MS Hi-Tech. Bruce Weber wrote that they were not aware of the ERAI report because QMS Global is not a member of ERAI. Upon the notification by Oxebridge, QMS “notified the client that the certification was cancelled.” The move represents a rare case where a CB acted upon information showing a company was not in compliance with a standard reference on an official certificate.



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