The IAF regional body APAC has cleared the International Accreditation Service (IAS) of all complaints filed against it by Oxebridge, which alleged multiple violations of ISO 17021-1.
The high-level complaint was prompted by dozens of ISO Whistleblower reports which revealed a pattern of violations by IAS accredited certification bodies, most commonly related to attempted collusion with consultants, and underbidding audits by quoting insufficient audit days. The problems were compounded when an IAS executive repeatedly claimed that the ISO 17021-1 requirements do not apply until either an ISO 9001 certificate is issued, or a contract is signed. Oxebridge alleges this attempts to legitimize illegal “bait and switch” tactics, allowing IAS certification bodies to low-bid a price during quoting, and then raise that price afterwards.
Coming days after a similar complaint was cleared by another IAF regional body against the US accreditation body ANAB, the APAC ruling applied many of the same tactics to ensure its accreditation body was likewise cleared. APAC intentionally ignored the bulk of the evidence put before it, and then oversimplified the details of the complaint; it then only addressed the simplified version of the complaint.
In one case, Oxebridge provided documented evidence that an IAS executive had sent confidential client documents to Oxebridge, in violation of ISO 17021-1’s requirements for confidentiality. APAC cleared IAS, but ignored the evidence entirely, writing instead, “The investigation indicates that IAS policy is clear on confidentiality and further its accredited CABs have taken actions since the complaint to indicate a disclaimer on the use of man-days in the quotation template.”
In another case, APAC claimed to have investigated two CBs who were alleged to have violated ISO 17021-1, even though Oxebridge provided evidence of more than a dozen such bodies having done so. APAC merely ignored the additional bodies.
During the investigation, APAC’s executive Graeme Drake specifically rejected information sent to him intended to aid in the investigation.
Pattern of Abdication of Duty
To date, every IAF regional body has cleared accreditation bodies of charges made against them by Oxebridge, all while ignoring documented evidence, even in cases where crimes appear to have been involved:
- The IAF body EA cleared UKAS after it worked with registrar LRQA to help a client cover up criminal fraud during the bidding of a massive oil contract. The client used a forged LRQA/UKAS ISO 9001 certificate to gain access to the contract. When the client was caught, LRQA and UKAS colluded to provide the client a valid ISO 9001 certificate, rather that either sue the company for trademark infringement or report them for criminal contract fraud. The date of the certificate was the same day as that reported for the audit, suggesting LRQA conducted an audit and produced the certificate in only 24 hours. UKAS did not investigate this disparity, and EA ignored it as well.
- The IAF regional body IAAC recently cleared ANAB after it claimed the registrar NQA, USA had not violated ISO 17021 after threatening an AS9100 client for hiring Oxebridge to assist in closing audit nonconformities. ANAB relied on the testimony of an ANAB witness auditor who did not witness the incident, rather than interview the actual witnesses. The IAAC then relied purely on ANAB’s testimony to clear it, and never contacted any of the parties involved.
- The IAF regional body EA has ignored entirely a complaint put before it against the accreditation body Akkreditierung Austria, which alleges that its representatives, along with those of the registrar Quality Austria, may have received criminal bribes in order to overlook at decade of ISO 17021 violations by Quality Austria’s Qatar office. That office was found to be operated by consultants who provided both consulting and certification services to dozens of Qatar companies. Witnesses claim that the oversight auditors of both Quality Austria and Akkreditierung Austria were given “five star vacations” in Qatar, and then overlooked the conflicts of interest. Oxebridge has formally requested that the IAF itself take up the investigation, including why the EA ignored the complaint.
- In March of 2018, the IAF claimed to have opened an investigation into how BSI issued an unaccredited ISO 45001 certificate shortly after that standard was released; a prior IAF Resolution specifically prohibited the issuance of unaccredited ISO 45001 certificates. Despite this, IAF then dropped the issue and never addressed it further, nor forwarded it to EA as would have been proper. The issue remains open, over two years later.
In all cases, the IAF itself has refused to perform any additional investigations after the regional bodies’ decisions, despite their obligation to do so.
Oxebridge is investigating whether the actions by IAS-accredited bodies in India violated Indian laws against criminal bait-and-switch. If proven true, then it would be one more case where IAF has ignored the potential commission of crimes by bodies under its watch.
The IAF is currently operated by an executive from the Chinese National Accreditation Service (CNAS), Xiao Jianhua. Its daily operations are led by the Canadian Elva Nilsen. In recent years, the IAF stripped its website of any contact information or names of its officers, employees or Board members, in an apparent attempt to further hide those responsible for its activities. IAF emails are now sent without any signature lines or names.
The Quality Manager for APAC is also a Chinese national, Mr. Yang Zhe, also of CNAS.
Oxebridge is preparing a legal argument claiming that the IAF’s abdication of duties amount to ultra vires violations of its responsibilities per their Bylaws and published Mandatory Documents, as well as the various ISO 17000-series standards. Those standards are directly referenced in the Bylaws, making them enforceable under US law.
IAF is registered in Delaware as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. US law demands that such organizations abide by their Bylaws, or be subject to ultra vires suits, among other possible litigation and enforcement actions.