A French court has ordered it Ikea to pay a € 1m fine and convicted the former chief executive of his French business of organizing a large-scale espionage operation that trapped employees and customers.
The Versailles criminal court ruled Tuesday that Ikea used private detectives and “fraudulent methods” to dig up information on employees and job seekers between 2009 and 2012, according to Agence France-Presse.
Prosecutors are facing a € 2 million fine against the world’s largest furniture retailer, which belongs to the Ingka Group, and a prison sentence for the former general manager of the French subsidiary, Jean- Louis Baillot.
Baillot, who was head of Ikea France from 1996 to 2002, was found guilty and received a two-year prison sentence with a € 50,000 fine.
“M. Baillot is very shocked by this judgment,” said the lawyer of the former chief executive, François Saint-Pierre. “He refuses to be given instructions to spy on Ikea employees, and plans to appeal.”
The case has aroused a lot of public interest in France, even if it focuses on the events of a decade ago, because it feeds on current tensions between employers and unions and concerns about the abuse of personal data. and privacy rights.
The scandal came to light in 2012, when police stormed Ikea’s French headquarters in Yvelines, near Versailles. Officials confiscated the documents and checked the computer after a preliminary judicial investigation was opened into the allegations of illegal surveillance made by members of two union groups.
The court found Tuesday that management used a private security company, Eirpace, to illegally obtain police records and collect personal data.
In addition to the two-year suspended prison sentence received by Baillot, Jean-Francois Paris, who was in charge of the risks and carried out mass inspections of employees for Ikea France from 2002 to 2012, was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence 18 months and given a € 10,000 fine, according to AFP.
Critics said at the time that Ikea’s secret culture had been strained by rapid expansion into nine countries. The company has also faced a corruption scandal in Russia close to its problems in France.
But it has continued to open up over the past decade, giving a bigger view of its business and balance sheet, revealing its profits for the first time in 2010 and explaining more about its complicated organizational structure.
Following the ruling on Tuesday morning, Ikea France said it “apologized for this situation which seriously undermined the company’s values and ethical standards” and that it “strongly condemned the practices of its former employees”.