Ikea fined and ex-executive handed suspended jail term in spying case

The French subsidiary of Ikea has been fined €1m (£861,000) and a former executive handed a suspended jail term over accusations that employees were illegally spied on for many years.

Following a trial, Ikea France was deemed guilty of improper use of personal data in a case that dates back to 2012 when allegations were first raised by trade unions.

The company sacked four executives at that time, but denied spying on anyone, when a criminal investigation was first launched into claims the retailer had snooped on workers for a decade and even paid to gain access to police files.

One specific allegation related to Ikea France using bank data to try to catch an employee who had claimed unemployment benefits but drove a Porsche.

Prosecutors had argued for a €2m penalty against the Swedish-based flat-pack furniture retailer, which employs 10,000 staff across 34 stores in France and an online operation.

Former Ikea France chief executive Jean-Louis Baillot was fined €50,000 (£43,000) for storing personal data and handed a two-year suspended jail term.

Several store managers and employees in human resources as well as a private investigator and police officers were among those caught up in the probe.

The Ingka Group, which owns Ikea, said it was reviewing the court’s ruling to see if any further measures were needed, after it took steps to stamp out the surveillance tactics.

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

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