The website of the Karama-based agency showing VDH’s ISO certificate has been withdrawn. Image Credit: Screengrab

DUBAI: The sensational XPRESS expose on the sale of ISO certificates in the UAE has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

Authorities have told XPRESS a full scale investigation has been launched into the racket.

They have also suspended the accreditation of the Karama-based agency that issued the ISO 9001 2015 certificate to undercover XPRESS journalists who approached the firm posing as owners of the defunct electrical company VDH.

Prompt action

Their accreditation was revoked by Dubai Municipality’s Dubai Accreditation Centre (DAC), the governing body of certification bodies, on February 21, less than a week after the XPRESS report.

However, authorities did not confirm if the suspension was a fallout of the story.
Meanwhile, in a bizarre bid to cover their tracks, the Karama-based agency has ‘withdrawn’ (sic) the certificate issued to VDH.

“There are some technical issues with VDH so our management has decided to withdraw the ISO certificate,” said a staff of the company.

She refused to respond to questions on how the certificate was issued in the first place to a firm that was shut down long ago and, worse, is under investigation for fraud. “We are in touch with our governing body and they are looking into the issue,” she added, trying to bubble wrap the conversation with technical and bureaucratic mumbo jumbo.

Meanwhile Laurent Charlet, project manager, Conformity Assessment, ISO Central Secretariat thanked XPRESS for bringing the case to their notice, saying that they have alerted the IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and DAC who will now look into the issue.

On February 16, XPRESS published a story on how the globally trusted and much sought after ISO 9001: 2015 certificate can be bought in the UAE by anyone who can pay for it.

Sting operation

To prove its point two XPRESS journalists posed as directors of the non-existent electrical firm VDH and approached a government-accredited agency in Dubai authorised to issue ISO certificates in the country.

All they had to provide the agency was a copy of VDH’s trade licence, an email address, phone number and Dh4,000 in cash.

Less than 36 hours later they had the certificate in their hands. In fact, representatives of the agency even posed with the journalists for pictures while handing over the certificate in their office.

If this was not shocking enough, they even gave an exhaustive 13-page audit report detailing how their officers assessed VDH’s operations at their facility and found it to be compliant with ISO standards on various parameters.

Under normal circumstances the much trusted and globally recognised stamp is awarded only after a detailed audit and compliance survey which takes weeks, if not months.