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Ikea founder 'cried like a baby' over Russian bribery scandal

Ikea founder 'cried like a baby' over Russian bribery scandal

Published: 19 Feb 2010 13:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Feb 2010 13:46 GMT+01:00

Ikea's founder Ingvar Kamprad on Friday expressed "distress" over a bribery affair which has led to the firing of the Swedish furniture giant's two top managers of its Russian division.

"I sat in my old armchair and cried. I wept like a child because I was so sad," he said in an interview with the Expressen newspaper.

"I am heartbroken about what happened," he said. "I am very, very sorry."

The company said on Saturday its "representatives in Russia agreed upon bribes being paid, related to power supply to Ikea-owned MEGA shopping centres in Saint Petersburg."

"Two top managers have left their positions and Ikea with immediate effect," the group added.

Kamprad is now 83-years-old and set up the Ikea flat-pack furniture firm in 1943 when a teenager.

He said he was informed last Friday that Per Kaufmann, whom he has known for 20 years, and Stefan Gross, had been fired for giving the go-ahead to bribes.

Kaufmann was the head of IKEA in Russia and Gross was IKEA's director of real estate in the country.

"I don't want to say anything before I know what is behind this," Kamprad said, adding he had spoken to Kaufmann and "he is sorry, not for his own sake, but for Ikea's sake, that things happened as they did," he said.

Kamprad, who lives in tax exile in Switzerland, said he hoped the bribery affair would not hurt the group's presence in the Russian market.

"I think most Russians understand our situation," he said.

Ikea owns 12 shopping centres in Russia, all of which are home to an Ikea store and around 150 other tenants.

Ikea is an unlisted, family-owned company and traditionally does not release regular earnings reports.

At the end of last year, Kamprad was the richest man in his adopted Switzerland with a fortune valued at some €23 billion ($31 billion).

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:55 February 20, 2010 by morchad
€23 billion and he just got rid of his old 240 for "a more economical" Skoda. You'd know he was from Småland alright :-)
01:08 February 21, 2010 by GLO
What a Man..... Got any more in Sweden?
02:08 February 22, 2010 by Da Goat
Poor Bugger
03:06 February 22, 2010 by Davey-jo
I hope your IRS are reading all this.
11:28 February 22, 2010 by Audrian
It is a worrisom situation that this grand oldman, otherwise remarkable person, keeps the reign of power in IKEA to this date. It is a situation similar to dictators who centralize and stay on power till they are knowcked out of power and the country is left to leak its wounds from the fallout of a civil war for many years.

It seems none have opportunities to learn from experience except see the grand old man fire his close associties and cry.
11:37 February 22, 2010 by Jimk
Unfortunately Russia is well known for such practise... No bribes=No business
11:54 February 22, 2010 by Audrian
Is not time for this grand old man to leave his post in grace.
13:13 February 22, 2010 by karex
I wonder if it is at all possible these days to stay clear of such dealings if one must do business in Russia?
20:49 February 22, 2010 by x_x
karex I guess it is possible to be clean if the person have nothing to hide, it doesn't matter where you do business. If moral code allows to bribe then no matter where the business is performed. Russia is not exception, the question is what kind of people are involved in these scandals, the same kind you will find everywhere.
10:40 February 24, 2010 by calebian22
Tax exile in Switzerland? They make it sound illegal. Good for him.
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