Ikea faces French trial for spying on customers and staff

VERSAILLES: Ikea’s French subsidiary and 15 individuals, including former executives and police officials, will be put on trial on charges of spying on employees and customers, prosecutors said Thursday.

Three former Ikea France executives, including two former CEOs, are among those charged in a case dating back to 2012, when the Swedish-based home furnishings giant was accused of paying for illegal access to police files.

The company is alleged to have paid police for information on individuals, particularly workers involved with labour unions and clients involved in disputes with Ikea.

Prosecutors say the Swedish retailer’s French unit bought access to court and police records and bank details.

The information was allegedly taken from France’s STIC police records system, which tracks the names and personal information of millions of criminals, victims and even witnesses.

Four police officials are among 15 people charged, along with two former Ikea France chiefs, Jean-Louis Baillot and Stefan Vanoverbeke, and former CFO Dariusz Rychert.

On Thursday, the prosecutor’s office in Versailles, outside Paris, decided there was enough evidence to hold a trial.

In the wake of the allegations, Ikea France fired four employees, opened an internal inquiry and established a code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the scandal.

The company has 34 stores in France and employs 10,000 people.