The India-based ISO 9001 certification body TNV Certification responded to an official complaint by rejecting it entirely after only 41 minutes of consideration. At the same time, the registrar’s senior manager accused Oxebridge of “malpractice,” “liable” (sic) and threatened legal action.

The move forced Oxebridge to escalate the complaint to TNV’s accreditation body, the United Accreditation Forum (UAF) and call for TNV’s accreditation to be immediately suspended, given that it showed contempt for the complaints handling process.

The complaint was triggered by four serious concerns. First, TNV had been emailing Oxebridge since 2017 in order to form a partnership, and to make Oxebridge — a consulting company — an official “TNV Branch Office.” The accreditation rules ISO 17021-1 prohibit accredited registrars from co-marketing consulting and certification activities.

Next, Oxebridge obtained proposals submitted by TNV in which it provided pricing for ISO 9001 certification without any knowledge of the size or scope of the company it was offering to certify, thus failing to properly calculate minimum audit duration. In these same proposals, TNV overtly offered both certification and “full consulting” while repeatedly invoking their UAF accreditation. ISO 17021-1 prohibits a CB from offering consulting services. The proposal then claimed the entire process could be accomplished in one week.

TNV email proposal for ISO 9001 offering “certificate with full consultancy.”

The third concern raised issues with TNV’s massive internet marketing campaign, which is spread over many domain names, URLs and companies. On multiple websites, TNV was found openly marketing ISO  9001 consulting services, going so far as to brand itself “certification consultants.”

A fourth issue was raised regarding false claims by TNV of being accredited not only by UAF, but by JAS-ANZ and Dubai Accreditation Centre (DAC, now known as EIAC.) At one point TNV was accredited by JAS-ANZ, but lost that accreditation, only to have it picked up by UAF.

TNV website claiming accreditation by Dubai Accreditation Centre

Within 41 minutes, TNV’s Managing Director Pragyesh Singh responded by claiming, “I state that all the allegation posted on the mail are false hence denied.”  Mr. Singh went on to rail against Oxebridge and make numerous false claims and threats.

We have been informed that you have been indulged in such malpractices to publicise false claim on the portal and putting false allegation and trying to gain unwanted publicity, please be aware that such unprofessional behaviour / tendency of placing false and baseless allegation can put you or your organisation liable toward TNV and others too.

Attacking a whistleblower to discredit a valid concern is a standard tactic for companies intent on hiding violations.

The response earned TNV an immediate escalation of the complaint to their Accreditation Body, UAF. The escalated complaint then added numerous additional allegations, claiming TNV violated ISO 17021-1 rules on complaints handling, which include the requirement that the “submission, investigation and decision on complaints shall not result in any discriminatory actions against the complainant.”

Given the extraordinary response by TNV, Oxebridge is calling on UAF to immediately suspend TNV’s accreditation as it performs its investigation.

IAF listing for United Accreditation Forum.

The UAF is problematic in and of itself, as it appears to be a “pop-up” accreditation body intent on accrediting registrars which other ABs have waved off, marketing largely to Indian CBs while using a US address to give it a sheen of authenticity. The official address for UAF is a private residence in Norfolk VA, and its owner appears to be a medical doctor — Dr. Tejwant Chandi of Elizabeth City NC — with no background in ISO standards or certifications. Attempts to get Dr. Chandi to acknowledge ownership of UAF have gone unanswered. The UAF’s Senior Executive of Accreditation signed his emails only as “Joe,” and only after prompting from Oxebridge admitted his full name was “Jobin Singh.” Finally, while a member of the International Accreditation Forum, the UAF has not been admitted into the IAF Multilateral Agreement (MLA), for reasons which are not clear. For approximately two years, UAF has been claiming this would be finalized “soon.” The IAF indicates that ABs are only admitted into the MLA “after a most stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team which is charged to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF requirements.

The UAF has formally acknowledged the complaint against TNV, however, and is processing it.

To read the full formal complaint against TNV, click here.

The complaint came as a flood of reports of improper activities by CBs in India and the Middle East have been submitted  through the ISO Whistleblower Program. One CB has already been suspended from accreditation for its activities.

UPDATE 1 October 2019: TNV’s Director Pragyesh Singh has doubled down, threatening legal action against Oxebridge for what it calls “fake post and news.” Even after receiving screenshots of the TNV websites which advertise DAC and JAS-ANZ accreditation, Singh continues to deny the evidence and refuses to process the complaint.

Even more curiously, despite the fact that Singh was responding to a formal complaint, his latest email claims that Oxebridge “never filed any complaint to us in this respect.

Singh then continues to defame Oxebridge in the email, which was copied by Singh to the UAF. Unlike the United States, internet defamation in India is a criminal offense.

Oxebridge founder Christopher Paris commented, “TNV’s baseless threats will not cause the complaint to go away, nor slow down the processing of that complaint by its Accreditation Body and the IAF. Mr. Singh would be better off spending his time addressing the evidence rather than making matters worse for himself and TNV by engaging in potentially criminal defamation of a whistleblower.”

You can read Singh’s response here.