Ikea fined € 1 million, ex-France chief gets suspended sentence for espionage scandal

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A French court on Tuesday ordered IKEA to pay a €1 million fine for spying on its French staff, after the world’s largest furniture retailer was found guilty of unlawfully collecting and storing data about its employees.

The Swedish company’s French branch was accused of having spent years sniffing its employees and violating their privacy by checking their bank account details and sometimes using fake employees to prepare employee reports.

Prosecutors had pushed for a fine of 2 million euros against the company, which is owned by the Ingka Group.

The company said it was reviewing the court decision to see if further action was needed after it took steps to stamp out surveillance tactics.

“IKEA Retail France has strongly condemned the practices, apologized and implemented a major action plan to prevent this from happening again,” the company said.

Jean-Louis Baillot, the former chief executive of the flatpack furniture company in France, was also found guilty in the case and given a two-year suspended sentence. Judges fined him 50,000 euros for storing personal data.

The allegations targeted the 2009-2012 period, although prosecutors said the spy tactics began in the early 2000s.

Several store managers and human resources employees, as well as a private detective and police officers were among those faced with allegations.

IKEA was also accused of spying on some customers in the case. It fired several executives and revised its internal policies after the allegations came to light in 2012.

The group was accused of searching employees’ records to monitor their finances and personal lives. It has acknowledged some of these tactics, although it has denied having set up a widespread espionage system.

(REUTERS)