New evidence obtained by Oxebridge suggests the Executive Vice President of Quality Austria was more deeply involved with the consulting firm Qatar Quality Plus, personally providing training services for its clients.
Eckehard Bauer dismissed a complaint filed against Quality Plus for violations of ISO 17021 when it was discovered that employees of Quality Austria’s Qatar office were simultaneously operating a consulting firm, Qatar Quality Plus, out of the same office. Bauer did not reveal his personal knowledge of this conflict, nor recuse himself, resulting in the complaint being escalated to higher oversight bodies.
Now additional evidence has emerged showing Bauer was personally involved in at least two activities related to clients of Qatar Quality Plus.
The Quality Austria Gulf website features an article on a 2017 award ceremony where Quality Austria granted multiple ISO certifications to Tokyo Freight Services of Doha Qatar, and features multiple photos of Bauer personally handing the certificate to the company.
Sources report that Tokyo Freight Services had received consulting from Qatar Quality Plus’ owner, Linda Ross, who is also the head of Quality Austria’s Gulf office. The article boldly lists the attendees of the ceremony as including “Mr. Zeljko Cvjetinovic (GM Quality Austria Gulf)” and “Prabath De Silva (Technical Manager/Auditor Quality Austria Gulf).” Both Cvjetinovic and DeSilva are known employees of Qatar Quality Plus. Cvjetinovic is the husband of Linda Ross.
As the regional accreditation body investigates Quality Austria and its accreditation body Akkreditierung Austria for their role in the scandal, Bauer will likely be asked to explain how he was not aware that Ross, Cvjetinovic and DeSilva were all simultaneously working for Qatar Quality Plus, while working for Quality Austria, given that their names were on both companies’ websites and marketing materials.
Sources ensure Oxebridge that Bauer was wholly aware of the employees working for both companies, and was personally aware of — and approved — the certifications issued by Quality Austria to Qatar Quality Plus clients.
Emerging Training Scandal
Bauer was also personally involved in at least one training seminar promoted by Qatar Quality Plus, but performed under the Quality Austria logo.
The Qatar Quality Plus website includes a graphic of a flyer from a February 13, 2013 “Internal Certification Program for Risk Management” seminar presented by Bauer. The flyer includes the Quality Austria logo, but has the same address and phone number as that of Qatar Quality Plus. (It is shown below in the event that QQP removes it from their site:)
The email listed on the flyer is the same of that of Rajiv Fernando, who was simultaneously a representative of QQP, as shown by the QQP’s website; likewise the phone number is identical:
Sources tell Oxebridge that Fernando is the brother of Linda Ross.
At the same time, images dated for the same day appeared on the Qatar Quality Plus Facebook page, presenting the event as an event hosted by them, not Quality Austria.The images show attendees with Quality Austria promotional items, such as coffee mugs.
Another Facebook image of a flyer for a similar event hosted by QQP shows the contact information for Quality Austria Gulf:
This means that Quality Austria’s VP personally provided training at an event sponsored by Qatar Quality Plus, arranged by its employees, and then subsequently photographed by QQP.
Such collusion was not the first incident between the two organizations. Other photos from the QQP Facebook page show a 2012 training event on OHSAS 18001 being given by Rajiv Fernando on behalf of Qatar Quality Plus, with marketing materials for Quality Austria in the background. ISO 17021 prohibits co-marketing of consulting and certification services.
Oxebridge estimates over 100 companies in Qatar were being “worked” by Qatar Quality Plus to become simultaneous Quality Austria clients. Ross personally tracked the conversion of QQP clients to Quality Austria clients. It is not clear if she shared this information directly with Bauer.
Oxebridge originally filed a complaint with Quality Austria alleging violations of ISO 17021 rules against conflicts of interest. That standard prohibits a certification body from certifying any company that received consulting from its staff or a related company. Bauer personally closed the complaint without action. Oxebridge then escalated the complaint to Akkreditierung Austria, which has refused to even acknowledge receipt of the complaint. An auditor with Akkreditierung Austria, Adolph Kerbl, was reported to have received a “five star vacation” paid for by Ross in exchange for Kerbl overlooking nonconformities during a routine accreditation audit. Akkreditierung Austria has not denied the allegations, but has refused to defend itself against them.
This resulted in the complaint being escalated to the regional body EA (European co-operation for Accreditation) but Oxebirdge’s sources have never been contacted, and there is no evidence that any investigation is underway.
Quality Austria pays fees to Akkreditierung Austria, which then pays fees to EA, resulting in diminishing interest in pursuing complaints as one scales the power structure.
Oxebridge is investigating whether criminal bribery occurred between Quality Austria Gulf and the representatives of Quality Austria Vienna and Akkreditierung Austria.