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We reported earlier that SAPA Extrusions, since reformed as Hydro Extrusions, was responsible for over a decade of aluminum test data falsification that was later proven to be responsible for the loss of two NASA rocket missions, costing taxpayers $700 million. News media then reported this affected over 450 customers and resulted in billions of dollars in additional losses. SAPA settled by paying $68 million to resolve criminal and civil charges, and one employee was arrested. The data falsification occurred began in 1996 and was found to have continued through 2015.
While SAPA denied the charges, it did plead guilty to a single count of criminal mail fraud, resulting in the payout. So when I accuse SAPA/Hydro of “criminal activity,” I am being literal, not hyperbolic.
Of course the company held ISO 9001, and you knew that part was coming. But whether the specific plants involved in the scandal held it is still being researched. BSI appears to have held the global contract for all SAPA facilities and subsidiaries, but no record could be found showing that BSI certified the two specific plants involved. So far.
But afterward, in 2018, BSI certified SAPA’s reformed company, Hydro, including the locations responsible for the data falsification. So whether or not BSI awarded SAPA with an ISO cert while they were falsifying data is still being looked into, we now know they rewarded the company after the fact.
Meanwhile, NASA found the criminal acts so egregious, it didn’t stop by banning SAPA from all government contracts, it is also working to ban Hydro, apparently seeing through the company’s attempts to allegedly re-brand itself after the debacle.
The BSI ISO 9001 certificate, however, will do the opposite: it will help Hydro gain access to government contracts, which often require ISO 9001 as a minimum condition for bidding. BSI seems unplussed by the fact that it is assisting a company that cost taxpayers billions of dollars and put untold lives at risk through data falsification.
Not only that, BSI is being outright snotty about the situation, which is par for the course for them.
I wrote to Reg Blake, a Senior VP at BSI Americas, as well as Carlos Pitanga, the BSI rep who signed the ISO 9001 certificate issued to Hydro. Pitanga ignored the question entirely, but Blake wrote back with his usual “Excuse me while I twirl my mustache and tie this lady to the train tracks” tone. In my email I directly confronted Blake about the problem, asking how BSI could have issued an ISO 9001 cert to a company involved in such a high level of criminal activity. I mentioned that I was researching if BSI had issued the certs under the SAPA name previously, but explained that “I’m still working to double-verify this last point.” Because double-verification is a thing that writers should do.
Blake wrote back, throwing my own words back at me:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your email below which is receiving our attention.
We will respond once we have double-verified our data.
I think it’s cute that Blake can be so smug and condescending while his company helps Hydro get back into an industry where it engaged in such heinous crimes and displayed decades of contempt for the most basic quality principles. Cute!
That was over ten days ago, so BSI isn’t going to reply any time soon, but at least they are on record as having been confronted with it. Another useful data point in the massive database of CB scandals and collusion with corrupt and criminal companies.
Likewise, ANAB has no problem with having their logo slathered all over companies like SAPA or Hydro, and they have remained button-shut quiet about the entire thing. Presumably, because… ka-ching.
BSI isn’t alone, so shouldn’t be singled out. Right now we’re fighting a battle in Peru, where the company Odebrecht was responsible for such widespread criminal corruption, it has landed multiple ex-presidents in jail or under house arrest, with one ex-president (Alan Garcia) committing suicide to avoid the same result. Another Peruvian ex-president, Alejandro Toledo, fled to Los Angeles to avoid criminal prosecution for Odebrecht bribes. Despite the huge evidence of continent-wide corruption and criminal activity, the registrar Bureau Veritas continues to award Odebrecht with ISO 9001 certificates. So far the Peruvian government has not focused on Bureau Veritas as an enabler, but that may be coming as Oxebridge continues to talk with government officials in that country.
This is why your ISO certification scheme can’t have nice things. Because it rewards criminals in exchange for contracts.