The French subsidiary of IKEA and several former company executives appear in court on Monday over an old espionage case. According to French justice, the furniture giant has hired private investigators to collect data from its employees and applicants.
The issue came to light in 2012 after it wrote the French weekly Canard Enchaîné. He wrote that between 2009 and 2012, the company monitored employees through an “organized spy system.” This mainly relates to employees who have lost their luck with the French branch of IKEA.
Among the fifteen suspects are former IKEA France chief executive Stephane Vanuferbeek, and his successor, Jean-Louis Baillot. They are subject to a prison sentence, as well as a fine IKEA itself.
In addition to the various drivers, four police officers must also appear before the court in Versailles on Monday. They are suspected of passing confidential information to the company. IKEA would have paid eighty euros each time to access the private data.
After the issue arose, the furniture giant wiped the broom through the French administration. The company sacked the former CEO, chief of human resources, chief financial officer and chief risk officer, among others.
600,000 euros a year for private investigators
Court documents indicate, among other things, that the IKEA office in France spent 600,000 euros per year on private investigators. For example, rental investigators had to figure out how an employee could purchase a new convertible.
In another case, the main question was how an employee previously known as an ideal could turn into a “troublemaker”. The investigators were also asked to find out if the employee was “at risk of environmental terrorism.”
The company’s attorney acknowledged that the case revealed “organizational weaknesses” within the French arm of IKEA. He said the furniture giant, which owns 34 stores in France, had made changes and would have been punished enough in the form of reputational damage.