A French newspaper has claimed that Swedish furniture multinational Ikea hired private detectives to access police files on its staff and customers.
The weekly Le Canard Enchainé published what it said were emails between the head of Ikea’s risk-management department, Jean-François Paris, and Yann Messian, a private investigator at Sûreté Internationale, about gaining access to the controversial STIC police database, Radio France Internationale reported.
The paper says more than 200 checks on criminal records and vehicle registrations were solicited.
An Ikea spokesperson promised to investigate the charges, but would neither confirm nor deny them. In a statement, the firm said:
“We disapprove in the strongest possible way of all these kinds of illegal practices which are an affront to important values such as respect for a person’s private life.”
Ten Ikea staff are planning to take legal action against the furniture giant for illegal use of personal information, The Daily Telegraph reported. The offence carries a penalty of up to $400,000 and five years in prison.
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Le Canard Enchainé said Ikea was offered access to the files for about $100 each, as well as to a database of vehicle owners. According to the BBC, the paper claims the information was used when deciding whether to let certain employees go, and in resolving disputes with particular customers.
The company allegedly requested police files on a customer who was suing Ikea for €4,000, and for the name of the owner of a car that drove up to the site of a future outlet. It also asked for data on job applicants and a union member accused of “anti-globalization discourse.”
The STIC database, which contains millions of names and personal information about crime perpetrators, victims and witnesses, has been attacked for being unreliable, according to the Agence France Presse.
A 2008 report into the system concluded that only 17 percent of the documents on individuals were accurate.
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