Swedish furniture company Ikea allegedly paid private security firms to do background checks on criminal records, political links, and vehicle registrations of more than 200 people, including employees and customers who were suing the company, The Telegraph reports.
France’s Le Canard Enchaîné newspaper (not available online) and investigative website Rue89 say they had uncovered email exchanges dating back to 2003, that show the head of the company’s risk management department, Jean-Francois Paris, and Yann Messian of Sureté International discussing access to the French police’s database. The email exchanges seem to show that Ikea paid 80 euros ($108) for each report.
The information was then used in deciding whether to fire certain staff members or provide intelligence on customers involved in legal disputes with them, the papers claim.
Accessing the documents without authorization is an offense punishable with a £270,000 ($430,500) fine and up to five years in prison.
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.” However, he stressed that the investigation was not an admission of guilt.
The Force Ouvrière workers’ union on Thursday lodged a formal legal complaint against Ikea, accusing it of illegally spying on staff and customers, The Local reports. The employees also plan to launch an association for all victims (“Association de Défense des Victimes d’IKEA”), including employees, union representatives, and customers who may have been affected by the alleged activities.
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