Kitchen and Home Furniture Giant Ikea accused of spying

If you look at today’s press its hard not to notice that furniture giant Ikea is alleged to have paid for secret police files to spy on ‘complaining’ customers and ‘suspicious’ staff at stores in France.

The Swedish company are reported to have paid private security firms to carry out checks on criminal records and links to political groups on more than 200 people. Also, customers involved in legal action with Ikea and employees highlighted as ‘suspicious’ were all targeted in the scandal which began in 2003, it was reported.

The furniture giant, which has been making some inroads into selling kitchens has a PR time bomb on its hands, and if the allegations prove true it is difficult to see how, in this new era of anti corruption, media intrusion and abuse of corporate power and responsibility, that Ikea will come out unscathed.

A French newspaper said it had uncovered emails showing that bosses paid some £70 each for the reports, which were taken from a national French police database and that questions were asked about more than 200 people, including requests for criminal records, vehicle registration checks and any affiliations with political organizations.

The paper said that information was then used in deciding whether to sack certain members of staff or provide intelligence on customers involved in any legal disputes with Ikea.’  The offence is punishable with a £270,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

IKEA is privately held and is the world’s largest furniture retailer. As of October 2011, IKEA had 332 stores in thirty-eight countries and in the accounting year 2010, it sold $23.1 billion in products.

An Ikea spokesman in France said of the latest allegations:

‘We disapprove in the strongest possible way of all these kinds of illegal practices which are an affront to important values such as respect for a person’s private life. We intend to carry out a full investigation to find out what if anything has been taking place.  But we stress that our own investigation in no way amounts to any kind of admission that these practices have been carried out.’

The Kitchens Kitchens news item was sourced from various news sources