IKEA France’s privacy scandal is widening, because the French court believes management ordered its internal safety service to screen personnel in no less than 9 of its 29 stores. Versailles believes the current Belgian CEO must have been in the loop.
Ikea France’s management placed under suspicion
Versailles judicial police has brought in Stefan Vanoverbeke, Ikea France’s CEO, his predecessor Jean Louis Baillot and current Chief Financial Officer Darius Rychert on suspicion of being an accomplice to the unlawful gathering of personal information and violation of professional confidentiality. Vanoverbeke, through his attorney, denies any involvement in the matter.
Ikea France already had to weather the storm last year, when it became apparent its internal safety service systematically screened personnel. Their run-ins with the law and even their bank records were requested. Ikea apparently also requested to see the criminal record for annoying customers.
Friendly police officers helped to get the information and were paid for it, while Ikea’s management knew all about it - as the Versailles judicial police now believes. The illegally obtained information was then used to fire employees or to win court cases against customers.
Proof for 9 out of 29 stores
At first, Ikea claimed this tactic had only been used in one or two stores, but police research has found proof of illegal activity in at least 9 out of 29 stores.
Not only Ikea’s management is now suspect, Ikea itself is too. The furniture chain has to pay 500,000 euro, as a safeguard for future damages towards to the victims. The company has now written stricter behaviour guidelines and has sacked four members of the board.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)