The European Commission has confirmed to Oxebridge that it has opened an investigation into the Italian accreditation body, Accredia, and its chief executive Emanuele Riva, who also currently holds the Chair of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
The probe comes after Oxebridge reported Accredia and Riva for appearing to have violated EU sanctions against Russia. Riva has refused to honor EU law and the IAF’s own mandates to stop selling accreditation services in Russia. Instead, Riva has allowed Accredia to continue to accredit TEST, a St. Petersburg-based certification body.
Riva ignored calls from Oxebridge to honor his own IAF mandate and EU law, and to withdraw the accreditation of Test.
TEST previously claimed its clients include Gazprom, a Russian state-run oil consortium that is under individual sanctions by the EU and US for its role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This may have tied the fees submitted to Gazprom to both Accredia and the IAF, in violation of the sanctions, since those organizations earn revenue based on the certificates issued by TEST. More recently. TEST removed the reference to Gazprom from its website, but it is understood that they continue to certify the company.
In some early communication with Oxebridge, Riva implied that IAF procedures somehow trumped international law. He then broke off communication and has since refused to address the controversy.
Instead, Riva signed off on renewing TEST’s accreditation in January of 2023, defying the calls for Accredia and IAF to comply. This move earned the parties a formal complaint to the European Commission by Oxebridge.
The EU has now confirmed they are opening the matter, which will be managed by the European Commission’s Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union office. The Commission can only act to ensure that Italy enforces its laws on the matter.
The Italian government has so far refused to process a complaint against Accredia, including the Italian trade ministry that oversees that body. This posture is common when complaints are filed against accreditation bodies that are part of a government agency, as opposed to private corporate entities. Complaints against government-run ABs in Austria, Australia, and India were all ignored by their respective nation’s investigation ministries, presumably to protect their governments.
With the Italian ministry refusing to take action, the EC may not have much firepower to go after Accredia.
Riva has been under a storm of controversy since he took over the IAF from China’s Xiao Jianhua. He has repeatedly ruled in favor of non-accredited certificate mills, despite their threat to the IAF, and initially refused to issue any statements against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Riva personally interceded to block multiple complaints submitted against bodies in the certification scheme, corrupting the normal complaints handling process to shut down complaints.
It is widely believed that the beleaguered Riva will not run for re-election, due to a lack of support within the IAF membership itself, and will be replaced by ANAB’s Lori Gillespie, who currently acts as IAF Vice-Chair.