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Ikea fined €1 million in spying case

June 15, 2021

The company was found guilty of setting up an elaborate system to illegally spy on its French employees. The ex-boss of Ikea France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

The IKEA logo
The company's former CEO was handed a 2-year prison sentenceImage: Batard Patrick/ABACA/picture alliance

A French court ordered the furniture and home furnishing conglomerate Ikea to pay a fine of €1 million ($1.2 million) on Tuesday after the retailer was found guilty of spying on its staff and storing employee data.

A criminal probe into the company was opened in 2012 following reports of a widespread snooping scheme that was used against employees as well as customers who were in disputes with Ikea France. 

Prosecutors said the French subsidiary hired a private security company and private detectives to illegally obtain information on its employees and prospective staff as part of a "spying system" that operated from 2009 to 2012.

Prosecutors had sought a €2 million ($2.4 million) fine against the company. 

Ikea didn't immediately respond to the court's decision.

Former chief executive given prison sentence

Ikea France's former chief executive, Jean-Louis Baillot, was found guilty and given a 2-year suspended prison sentence. He was also fined €50,000 for storing personal data.

Baillot had previously denied wrongdoing and blamed the former head of risk management, Jean-Francois Paris, who has admitted to sending names of people to a private security firm, Eirpace.

Some 15 people were on trial over the spying system, among them another former CEO of Ikea France, Stefan Vanoverbeke.

Those on trial also included four police officers who are accused of handing over confidential information to Ikea France.

Founded in 1943, Swedish multinational Ikea is famous for its ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories. It has around 400 stores worldwide.

am/nm (AFP, Reuters)