Europe Business Assembly (EBA), which on its website claims to be “founded in Oxford”, is facing accusations of selling fake awards, in a revelation by British daily The Times.
The Ukrainian business is said to rake in millions of pounds from this trade, where the EBA is alleged to have asked people in certain countries to pay up to £9,300 (US$12,119) for bizarre awards such as “The International Socrates Award” and “The Queen Victoria Commemorative Award”.
The university said it was “not affiliated or otherwise linked”. The EBA declined to comment to The Times.
Staff were asked to cold-call and send mass emails to foreign businesses and academics to inform they have been nominated for awards and by paying a certain sum, they can “use the award brand . . . for public relations and marketing purposes”.
“We were asked to focus on areas where people would buy,” a former staff member told The Times (via The Sun).
“The Middle East, eastern Europe and Russia . . . where the idea money buys you credentials is still there.”
For a price tag of up to £9,300, ‘award’ recipients are guaranteed a “higher business profile and an enhanced reputation which could ultimately lead to continued business success”.
“What’s £8,000 (US$10,425) for a certificate? £8,000 is not a lot to have Oxford on your wall,” an ex-employee told The Times.
According to International Business Times, the “Socrates award” is awarded to a “personality who has had a global influence on economic and social progress” complete with a Swarovski crystal-encrusted medal, covered in pure gold at venues like Oxford Town Hall and the Institute of Directors in London.
The Times reports one John Netting, a former lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, hands out the “awards”.
At the time of writing, EBA’s website states it is an “international corporation of social partnership” that was “established in the year 2000 in Oxford, UK” by Ukrainian businessmen Anton Savvov,
The Sun notes EBA also uses the photos of Oxford University in its advertisements as well as its typeface in its logo.