Oxebridge has learned that a handful of IAF signatory accreditation bodies continue to issue accredited ISO certificates in Russia, despite international sanctions and an IAF mandate to cease doing so.

As reported previously, the accreditation body headed by IAF Chair Emanuele Riva, Accredia, continues to accredit certificates issued by TEST, a Russian certification body operating out of St. Petersburg. At the same time, Riva has personally worked to shut down accreditations in Russia issued by Accredia’s competitor, Rosaccreditation. This has raised the suspicion that Riva is using his role as IAF head to benefit Accredia and destroy its competition in that region.

In May 2022, Riva and the IAF issued a mandate that all members cease accreditation activities in Russia, but Riva himself ignored the ruling. Likewise, the EU has warned the IAF regional body, European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) that accreditation activities must be shut down in Russia, in order to comply with international sanctions. Riva and the IAF have likewise ignored that demand.

Now Oxebridge has learned that a small number of IAF member bodies are also ignoring the IAF’s mandate and EU sanctions, with the IAF doing nothing to stop them.

The Slovak National Accreditation Service (SNAS) recently allowed the issuance of a fully-accredited ISO 37001 certificate to the Russian mobile telecommunications operator Мобильные ТелеСистемы (“MTS” in English). Apparently, to give the appearance that the work did not violate the IAF rule and EU sanctions, the certificate was issued to MTS’ office in Uzbekistan, but the scope of the certification indicates it applies to MTS’ “headquarters in Moscow and all regional offices in Russia.” The certificate was issued by CERT International, a certification body out of Bratislava. Ironically, ISO 37001 is for anti-bribery systems.

Confirmation of certification issued to MTS in Russia, captured as of 16 July 2023 from the IAF CertSearch database.

MTS also appears to have been issued other certifications by the massive international certification body Bureau Veritas (BV). BV continues to operate a branch office out of Russia, which also covers Belarus, another country under sanctions for its role in the invasion of Ukraine. BV manages a Facebook page for “Bureau Veritas Rus-Bel” announcing certificates issued by the office. The Facebook feed reveals that BV issued ISO certifications to MTS as well, as well as Metalloinvest, a subsidiary of USM Holdings; that company is also under sanctions. A press release on the Metalloinvest website boasts about the certification, which apparently was issued in May of 2022 and then re-affirmed by another BV audit in May of 2023. The certificate, shown below, does not appear to include the IAF logo.

A press release published by MTS indicates that BV issued the mobile carrier an ISO 37301 certificate in May of this year. That standard is for “compliance management systems.” Another press release reveals that BV certified a related company, EGIS, to ISO 14001. It is not immediately clear how MTS and EGIS, a pharmaceutical company, are related. A press release on the EGIS website includes an image of the certificate (shown below), as well as quotes from Bureau Veritas’ certification director, Eugene Shipolov.

In April of 2022, Bureau Veritas published a formal announcement that it was “downsizing” its operations in Russia, but not ceasing them. It has not closed the Russian or Belarus operations, in defiance of sanctions.

The Italian certification body AX Register offers services targeted directly to Russia, for the Russian “GOST-R” versions of ISO standards. AX is accredited by the Albanian accreditation body DPA, a full IAF member as of this publication. The IAF does not appear to have pressured AX to cease its operations in Russia.

In June of 2022, one month after the IAF mandate and years after EU sanctions were imposed, the certification body SAI Global (now owned by Intertek) issued ISO 9001 certification to the Russian company RITVERC JSC. That certificate included the logos of SAI’s accreditation body JAS-ANZ as well as that of the IAF itself. Per the SAI official registry, as of July 16 2023, the certificate is still valid and fully accredited, and has not been withdrawn.

Certificate issued in Russia by SAI Global  (Intertek) in June 2022.

Verification on the official Intertek SAI Global site of the validity of RITVERC cert, as of 16 July 2023.

The certification bodies appear to be using sleight-of-hand tricks to circumvent the IAF ruling and sanctions. In some cases, such as the certificate issued to MTS above, the CBs issue a certificate to an office outside of Russia, but then include Russia in the scope of accreditation; few people read the scope or attachments to a certificate.

Another trick is to issue a certificate without the IAF or accreditation body logo. This is prohibited, however, under IAF rules which deny a CB the right to issue non-accredited certificates for schemes under which they are accredited. Without the IAF or AB logo, however, these certificates fly “under the radar” of the oversight bodies, and remain at large.

The IAF would have to take a stern posture with offending CB, such as Intertek, Bureau Veritas, as well as its own members, such as SNAS, JAS-ANZ, or Accredia. This, however, would dramatically impact the IAF’s own annual revenue, which is based on payments made from member ABs or its regional groups, who are themselves paid by the ABs.

The IAF’s selective enforcement of its policies with Rosaccreditation, while ignoring identical violations by JAS-ANZ and others, could further damage the group’s reputation, as well as put it further under the lens of regulators and criminal investigators. Oxebridge has filed a complaint against the IAF in the United States, alleging such practices amount to money laundering of payments originally issued by Russian firms under US sanctions, such as Gazprom. The status of that investigation is not known.


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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.