VERSALIA, France (AP) – Ikea’s French subsidiary քանի several of its executives are set to go on trial on Monday on charges of illegally spying on employees: customers.
The unions reported the furniture and household goods company to the French authorities in 2012, accusing it of illegally collecting personal data and illegally disclosing personal data.
The unions claimed in particular that Ikea France had paid for access to police cases containing information about targeted individuals. Ikea France has denied spying on anyone, but Sweden-based Ikea fired four executives in France after French prosecutors launched a criminal investigation in 2012.
One of the allegations was that Ikea France used unauthorized data to try to catch an employee claiming unemployment benefits but driving a Porsche. Another says that the subsidiary investigated the employee’s criminal record to find out how the employee was able to own a low-income BMW.
Clients with whom the company was in dispute also allegedly entered their personal data inappropriately.
Jean an-François Paris, former head of Ikea France’s risk management department, has admitted to French judges that between 530,000 and 630,000 euros ($ 633,000 to $ 753,000) a year are earmarked for such examinations. Paris, who is among the accused, said his administration was responsible for running it.
Former Ikea France CEOs Jean-Louis Baylon, Stefan Vanoverbecke and former CFO Dariusche Richter and store managers are on trial.
If found guilty, the two former CEOs face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 750,000 euros. Ikea France faces a maximum fine of 3.75 million euros. The trial is set to begin on April 2.
The company is facing potential damage to civil lawsuits filed by 74 union members.
Ikea France is a subsidiary of the Swedish furniture giant Ikea. which said in 2012 that it was cooperating with the French judiciary և adopted procedures to prevent illegal activities.
“It seems unbelievable that a company of this size, which has several stores in different countries, would not be aware of the illegality of the private data available to it,” said the judges investigating the case.
In France, Ikea employs more than 10,000 people in 34 stores, an e-commerce site and a customer support center.