Ikea executives in France are under investigation by local authorities for reportedly organizing a complex effort to spy on its employees and customers, going as far as hiring fake airport employees to obtain copies of an Ikea executive's passport.
The New York Times reports that the Swedish retailer's human resources department illegally obtained social security numbers and police files on employees and customers and hired private detectives to spy on them. In one case, the company hacked into travel records and bank accounts of a 12-year employee in France when she went on medical leave because they suspected she was not as sick as she had said. That employee later sued Ikea and won.
The investigation began in 2012 when Ikea's spy operations came to light after internal emails leaked to the French press the Wall Street Journal reported. Four IKEA employees, including Jean-François Paris, Ikea's head of risk management, were fired when the spying became public last year.
Recently, the ordeal has reached another turning point as French authorities are now questioning IKEA France's CEO Stefan Vanoverbeke, former CEO Jean-Louis Baillo and CFO Dariusz Rychert. Several police officers have also come under the microscope for possibly providing information to IKEA illegally, the BBC reported.
France is Ikea's third-largest market after Germany and the United States. To date, there have been no allegations that such surveillance occurred in any of the other 42 countries in which Ikea operates, and it remains uncertain why Ikea execs in France are alleged to have engaged in it so extensively.
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