A new study says purports to have proof that rates of fake ISO 9001 certificates are rising around the world, with China leading the charge in pioneering new methods of fooling authorities and the companies they’re working alongside.
The news comes after a collaborative effort between Professor Iñaki Heras-Saizarbitoria, and the University of Laval, Quebec was published, producing evidence of widespread fraudulent ISO certifications being claimed by companies without the relevant systems and auditing in place.
Professor Heras has published the findings, urging people to be cautious: “Products or components imported from China have often been found wanting when it comes to correctly complying with the specifications.”
The Professor said that his findings “paint a disturbing picture.”
The findings do not discredit all Chinese companies, however, they do encourage a certain amount of scepticism. “While it is true that many Chinese companies correctly implement and comply with the certification, there are many other cases in which this certification is faked in one way or another."
"The reliability of Chinese certificates is very low,” he said.
Professor Heras and his team have found four distinct ways in which Chinese companies circumvent the traditional means of acquiring ISO certification.
- “Create a certificate directly in photoshop"
- "Fraudulently obtain the official certificate (declaring that things are done in a specific way, when this is not in fact the case; doing them solely for the purpose of the external audit)"
-"Buying the official certificate without implementing any kind of system."
- "And finally, obtaining the certificate from a certification body that lacks the relevant accreditation, and in this case without implementing any system whatsoever, either.”
Following the publication of these results, the research team has been in contact with numerous bodies worldwide responsible for monitoring ISO certifications in the commercial sector. “Transparency should be improved. In other words, that certifying bodies should be required to have their databases updated on their websites, that they should display the list of certified Chinese companies. Despite the fact that this is a requirement, it is not met,” Professor Heras said.
“The political will is needed for this, but in this field many interest come together, in China as well as in world organisations.”
The group recommends that companies “not to trust certificates of this type coming from China. The problems could be very serious if some items that the company uses in one of its products fails to comply with the proper specifications.”
“From our point of view, the problem is pretty widespread, even though it is true that in some countries, it is particularly serious, as in China or Pakistan, for example. But in other countries, such as Russia or the United States, cases have also been spotted.”
The Professor and his group concluded that: “the situation varies between one European country and another. Each national body is a world unto itself, and each one establishes its limits and obligations. At the end of the day, standardization is a highly paradoxical regulation tool which is growing in strength in this era of globalisation and liberalisation.”