Oxebridge’s ISO Whistleblower Program has uncovered a massive, nationwide scandal affecting the United Arab Emirates and that country’s inability to regulate the ISO 9001 certification bodies operating within its borders.
So far a total of seven accredited ISO certification bodies have been discovered to be issuing “low ball” quotes for integrated management system certifications in violation of ISO 17021-1 and IAF rules for determining minimum audit duration. Oxebridge has filed five separate formal complaints demanding investigation by the CBs and their associated IAF member accreditation bodies. Two more complaints are pending, with the potential for more to come later.
For now, the complaints allege that AQC Middle East FZE, Business Quality Certification (BQC),
ACS W3 Solutionz, United Registrar of Systems (URS) and Veritas Global all provided quotes for certification of integrated management systems which did not comply with the accreditation rules. In all cases, the CBs quoted a “triple certification” to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 for a company with 50 employees, yet only quoted single-day or similarly short audits. The IAF Mandatory Document 5 (MD5) would have required between 10 to 15 audit days for such an integrated system, based on that employee count.
Two of the CBs are accredited by IAS, a US-based accreditation body that has become a center for controversy as a virtual clearinghouse for certificate mills in India and Pakistan. The other UAE-based CBs caught in the net were accredited by UAF (USA), UKAS (UK) and ESYD (Greece.) All are members of the International Accreditation Forum.
Two other complaints came in related to UAE-based certificate mills, ISO Online and Abu Dhabi Inspection Quality Centre. Complaints could not be filed against these bodies since they operate according to no rules, and have no oversight bodies to process such complaints. Instead, Oxebridge has ensured they are entered on the list of unaccredited certificate mills published by the ISO Benchmark website.
A handful of other reports on UAE scandals are pending verification by Oxebridge before official filings are submitted.
In separate Whistleblower reports, multiple bodies accredited by JAS-ANZ in India continue to operate illegally while bearing that accreditation body’s logo. Officials with JAS-ANZ have insisted they have taken action against the bodies, but Oxebridge confirms many — if not all — continue to operate under the JAS-ANZ logo. To date, this includes Indian-based companies Ezzus, AMS PVT, Equalitas, ISO Certification Gujarat, Globus, Aambition, Uphar, Estartup India and UQAS. Despite the evidence, JAS-ANZ General Manager of Accreditation Steve Keeling said, “we receive very few complaints in relation to JAS-ANZ accredited Indian based CBs these days.” Keeling claims that JAS-ANZ has stopped issuing accreditations in that country, but Oxebridge continues to find Indian companies bearing the JAS-ANZ logo.
Likewise, IAS has been wholly unable to stop Indian and Middle Eastern CBs from engaging in unethical practices or violations of the ISO 17025 rules on its watch. Problematic IAS accredited CBs include ISO India, AQC Middle East, Centre for HR and International Standards, ChrismaCert, Ambitious Assessment Private Ltd., DAS System and Services, InterCert, E-Startup India, QFS Management Systems, TNV Certification Private Ltd., International QACS, RICI and more. Most of these have approached consultants for under-the-table referral fee deals, a violation of objectivity and conflict of interest rules. Nevertheless, IAS VP of Global Accreditation & Quality Mohan Sabaratnam has repeatedly responded with smug responses when faced with complaints related to its accredited CBs.
CBs in India, Pakistan and the Middle East flock to accreditations by IAS and UAF because these bodies hold a US address, thus giving them a sheen of authenticity.
Meanwhile, the International Accreditation Forum has taken no action against any of the accreditation bodies, despite being informed of dozens of violations by the CBs under the watch of the IAF member bodies.
CORRECTION: the article incorrectly identified the Dubai Accreditation Center as one of the accreditation bodies; the actual AB involved is UKAS, and the article has been updated.