in Indonesia, Malaysia

SGS Malaysia’s RSPO accreditation was terminated because SGS Malaysia carried out audits while it was suspended

SGS MalaysiaOn 31 December 2015, Accreditation Services International terminated SGS Malaysia’s accreditation with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. REDD-Monitor wrote about this in February 2016: “Transparency and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil: Why was SGS Malaysia’s accreditation terminated?” Neither RSPO nor ASI were willing to explain why SGS Malaysia’s accreditation had been terminated.

REDD-Monitor asked Jan van Driel, RSPO Head of Certification, and László Máthé, ASI Lead Assessor and Accreditation Program Manager – RSPO & RSB, for more information about this case. “We will not announce any further details,” van Driel wrote. Máthé at ASI wasn’t much more helpful. “SGS Malaysia’s accreditation was withdrawn due to breaches of accreditation requirements,” he wrote.

On 9 February 2016, I also wrote to Kenny Looi at SGS Malaysia and asked for an on the record reply. Looi didn’t respond to my email, so I resent it on 6 April 2016. This time Looi replied.

I asked Looi three questions:

  1. Why was SGS Malaysia terminated?
  2. I can find no information on SGS Malaysia’s website about the fact that SGS Malaysia has had its RSPO accreditation withdrawn. Has SGS Malaysia made any public statements about this?
  3. How many companies had SGS Malaysia certified? What area of oil palm plantations were involved in these SGS-certificated operations?

Here’s Looi’s response in full. Looi sent two attachments, which are posted below. You can also download the attachments as pdf files here:

  • SGS Malaysia – Letter of Information Withdrawal of RSPO Accreditation
  • ASI – Witness Audit Requirement Letter

From: Looi, Kenny (Kuala Lumpur)
Date: 6 April 2016 at 05:01
Subject: RE: SGS terminated for RSPO
To: Chris Lang
Cc: “Gustomo, Aryo (Jakarta)”
Hi Chris,
The termination of SGS RSPO accreditation program by ASI has been reported in both RSPO and ASI website. SGS has communicated publicly to all the stake holders and a copy of the letter is attached for your information.
The scope of certification covers RSPO Principles & Criteria (primarily for Palm Oil Growers) and RSPO Supply Chain (normally production and traders). We have issued more than 180 certificates worldwide up to 31 Dec 2015.
We have re-applied via another SGS affiliate office i.e. SGS Indonesia and ASI has accepted our application and we are now permitted to conduct audit for the purpose of witnessing by ASI. The result of the witness audit leading to successful or non-successful accreditation will be announced by ASI/RSPO tentatively in May/June 2016.
Hope this clarifies.
Kenny Looi
Certification and Business Enhancement
General Manager (CBE)
Country Business Manager (CBE)
SGS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
Unit 10-1, 10th Floor, Bangunan Malaysian Re
No. 17, Lorong Dungun, Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA.


Dear Valued Customer/Business Partner,
This letter is to inform you that based on decision made by independent ASI Accreditation Committee (AC), and effective from 31st December 2015, SGS can for the time being no longer provide audit for RSPO P&C and RSPO SCCS worldwide.
The withdrawal decision made by ASI results from recommendation by ASI assessors in the last surveillance audit in November 2015. This recommendation was as a result that SGS had breached the accreditation requirements and accreditation agreement in that a small number of audits were executed worldwide whilst SGS Malaysia’s accreditation was under suspension between 10 March 2015 to 26 May 2015. Despite appeals by SGS that this was due to administrative errors and miscommunication with RSPO, ASI assessors were of the opinion that SGS had breached the ‘Suspension Condition’ imposed on SGS and had violated Clause 13.2.1 of ASIPRO-20-101-Accreditation v4.0.
This withdrawal decision did not relate in any way to SGS auditor qualification, competence or code of conduct but relates mainly on the operational management and communication issues by SGS accredited office in Malaysia.
As a result of this withdrawal, existing clients are required to transfer their RSPO certificate to another accredited CAB while SGS certificate continue to remain valid for a period of ninety (90) days i.e. 31st March 2016. You may find the detail guidance note for transfer published by ASI/RSPO in the website.
Immediate action has been initiated during January 2016 to establish a new RSPO Management office in SGS Indonesia.
SGS via PT SGS Indonesia office had applied to ASI for a new accreditation office which will be managed and controlled by a totally new management team based in Indonesia. SGS Indonesia has been operating since 1985 and now employs more than 400 expert and highly skilled professionals offering a mix of backgrounds from Indonesia’s key industries and companies. As Indonesia is the world largest palm oil producer, it is timely that a strong and influential accredited and dedicated sustainable palm oil office be set up to support the demand of the sustainable and certified palm oil and its related products worldwide.
We hope the new accredited office will be audited and approved within a short time period to allow continuation of certification partnership with SGS in the RSPO standard, however the time period cannot at present be defined. SGS Indonesia will regularly communicate the latest accreditation status and we are hopeful that this will be achieved soon so that SGS is in the position to fully recover our RSPO program and we encourage you to liaise with our Sales Team for future contract and business opportunities.
Please do not hesitate to contact our teams should you have any questions or wish to discuss this further.


11th of March 2016
Subject: PT SGS Indonesia RSPO accreditation
To whom it may concern,
This is to confirm that PT SGS Indonesia has applied for RSPO accreditation, including PC and SCC certification with Worldwide coverage.
The accreditation process requires ASI to perform witness audits performed by PT SGS Indonesia. For this purpose, PT SGS Indonesia is permitted to conduct the accreditation assessments. The assessments to be conducted by PT SGS Indonesia during the accreditation process are limited to the assessments that will be witnessed by ASI.
PT SGS Indonesia will only be able to issue certificates after the successful completion of the accreditation process.
László Máthé
RSPO Accreditation Program Manager


Leave a Reply

  1. Thanks to Kenny Looi and Lászlo Máthé for the update.

    SGS is an organization I trust to deliver third party assessments in general.