Under normal circumstances the much trusted and globally recognised stamp of ISO is awarded only after a detailed audit and compliance survey which takes weeks, if not months. But there in the UAE you can have it for as little as Dh4,000 and within three days, reported a leading daily from Gulf.
An undercover operation blew the lid off the well-oiled racket when the daily got the coveted ISO 9001:2015 certificate for a company that shut down long ago and, worse, is under investigation for fraud.
Posing as directors of the defunct electrical firm VDH whose real owners are on the run, the daily approached a government-accredited agency in Karama authorised to issue ISO certificates in the UAE. All they had to provide them was a copy of VDH’s trade licence, an email address, phone number and yes, some cold hard cash.
Less than 36 hours later they had the certificate in our hands. In fact, representatives of the accredited agency even happily posed for pictures while handing it over at a ceremony in their office. “Congratulations sir, now you are ISO certified. You can have it framed for your office and impress your clients,” the company’s Indian representative announced with a cheeky smile, reported the daily.
“If this was not shocking enough, they even gave us 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. Of course, none of this happened and couldn’t, even if the auditors had wanted, because VDH doesn’t exist,” the daily reported quoting its undercover reporters.
There are as many as 39 government-accredited certification bodies in the UAE. The investigation found out that nearly one-third of them flout basic norms and guidelines and will issue a certificate to just about anyone who wants it.
“ISO certificate? No problem. We will give it. It will take three days and cost Dh5,000. So when can we meet?” a Filipina sales executive of another company we found out about after a simple online search for ‘ISO in UAE’ said over the phone, reported the daily.
But getting an ISO certificate through the proper process isn’t easy. Sure enough, organisations that do not measure up to ISO’s stringent requirements resort to devious means which is not only quicker but also cheaper. Sadly, the certificate is just as bonafide as one obtained by genuine methods. This explains why around Dh20 million worth of such certificates are issued in the region annually with no audits or checks.