French IKEA managers fired for spying on staff and customers
Swedish furniture giant IKEA said Friday it was sacking four current and former managers at its French subsidiary over allegations they used illegal police files to spy on staff and customers.
French prosecutors in April launched a criminal probe following allegations that IKEA paid for illegal access to secret police files to gain information about employees, clients and even people who came near its property.
In a statement, IKEA said it was firing a former managing director, a former human resources director, a former financial director and the current risk management director. The IKEA France workers were not named.
The firings are because of “practices against values and ethical standards that have unfortunately been noted within IKEA France,” the statement added.
IKEA said it “continues to provide its complete support to the judiciary” and has taken measures to prevent a repeat of the alleged crimes.
When the scandal first came to light, IKEA France suspended three managers: former managing director Jean-Louis Baillot, risk management head Jean-Francois Paris and former human resources manager Claire Hery.
In interviews with online newspaper La Tribune, Baillot and Hery both denied any knowledge of spying at IKEA.
Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine broke the story in February by publishing what it said were emails between Paris and Yann Messian of security company Surete International about getting access to police STIC files.
The controversial STIC file system has been criticised for being an unreliable database of millions of names and personal information about crime perpetrators, victims and even witnesses.
The newspaper said that Surete International offered access to the files for 80 euros (about $100) a time, as well as to a database of vehicle owners.
The report quoted emails requesting information on employees, including union members, the owners of certain car registrations and the names associated with a list of mobile phone numbers.
IKEA France allegedly asked for police files on a customer who was suing the company for 4,000 euros and for the name of the owner of a car that approached the site of a planned shop.
Former management at Surete International, which was wound up in 2011, have denied responsibility, instead blaming a disgruntled former employee.
[Clients enter an Ikea store in Lomme, northern France in February. AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen]