Oxebridge has filed a formal complaint against the powerful German accreditation body Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS), after it ignored a formal complaint filed with it for over a year.

In March 2021, a whistleblower reported that the ISO 9001 certification body TUV Nord Middle East was operated under the same management as that of the consulting firm FAHHS. The complaint was originally filed with TUV directly, but the accreditation body EIAC of the United Arab Emirates interceded. EIAC then found that TUV Nord Middle East was, in fact, accredited by DAkkS. Meanwhile, TUV rejected the complaint, claiming there was no impropriety between itself and FAHHS, but providing no proof. Oxebridge alerted DAkkS that it intended to file a complaint in April of 2021, giving them an opportunity to check the matter informally.

DAkkS ignored the matter.

In January of 2022, Oxebridge filed the matter with DAkkS as a formal complaint, citing specific violations by TUV Nord Middle East of the accreditation standard ISO 17021-1. DAkkS closed the complaint in March of 2022, claiming that corrective action had been taken, but refusing to provide any evidence.

Oxebridge immediately found evidence that FAHHS continued to operate under TUV Nord Middle East, and so rejected DAkkS’ response, filing a new complaint on 11 March 2022.

DAkkS then ignored the matter entirely, and cut off communication. FAHHS continues to operate in the Middle East while using the TUV name openly. The company operates a public website with both company names in the URL: www.fahsstuv.com. This appears to prove that DAkkS did nothing to address the original complaint, and may have lied to Oxebridge in order to protect the owners of FAHHS and TUV Middle East.

ISO 17021-1 prohibits an accredited certification body from operating a consulting company unless strict controls are in place. Oxebirdge found that TUV was regularly certifying the clients of FAHHS, and that the two companies co-marketed their services.

DAkkS is tasked, under IAF rules, to oversee TUV Nord Middle East to ensure it does not violate ISO 17021-1.

Now, in March of 2023, Oxebridge has escalated the matter to the European Co-Operation for Accreditation (EA), the regional body of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) which claims to ensure bodies like TUV comply with their obligations under that standard. Oxebridge has directed EA to focus on DAkkS’ refusal to process a properly submitted complaint, and not get sidetracked by the issue related to TUV Nord Middle East.

A source close to DAkkS indicated that the accreditation body does not want to “go against a rich Saudi” and so closed the matter without actually performing any oversight.

A positive outcome by EA is unlikely, as the IAF regional body typically works to “cover up” complaints in order to protect members, rather than ensure they comply with accreditation rules. EA refused to properly investigate evidence that an auditor with the accreditation body Akkreditierung Austria accepted bribes to overlook a claim that Quality Austria was simultaneously operating a consulting company in Qatar, and then certifying its own clients. EA also refused to investigate UKAS, when it was revealed that UKAS’ certification body BSI was selling ISO 9001 documentation under its “BSI Entropy” software package, and then certifying clients who used it.


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Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.