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Ikea funded Romanian secret police: report

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Photo: TT
12:08 CEST+02:00
Swedish furniture chain Ikea handed over cash to the feared Romanian Securitate secret police during the Cold War era, according to a new report.

Declassified files at the National College for Studying the Securitate Archives (CNSAS) show that the firm agreed to be overcharged for Romanian-made products and some of these funds were handed over to the Securitate, according to a report in the UK Guardian daily.

The documents are reported to indicate that Ikea was complicit in the payments, a claim denied by the firm.

"We have investigated this internally and have found no grounds to believe that we had direct contact with the Securitate in our documents," said Josephine Thorell to the Dagens Nyheter daily on Friday.

The Guardian report refers to "a six-figure sum" but does not specify currency.

Thorell explained that Ikea had contact with a so-called middle man firm, named as Technoforestexport, which she claims was a typical arrangement for doing business in Romania at the time.

Ikea's business dealing with its Romanian partner continued for seven years and ended in 1988. Among the products manufactured in the country included the iconic Billy bookcase, Jonas desks and Albert chairs.

According to the Guardian, Ikea was one of a small number of western European firms who took advantage of the plentiful timber resources and cheap labour that the country offered as restrictions on trade began to ease in the 1980s.

The revelations are not the first of their kind relating to Ikea and its dealings with former Communist dictatorships in eastern Europe.

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The Local reported in November 2012 that Ikea had apologized after a report confirmed that East German political prisoners were used in the Swedish furniture giant's factories in the 1970s and 1980s.

The report confirmed that Ikea managers were aware of the possibility that political prisoners could be among the workforce.

The Securitate was the popular name given to the Romanian secret service in the Cold War era.  The organization grew into the one of the largest in the Eastern bloc relative to the country's population and during the regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu employed some 11,000 agents and several hundred thousand informers. 

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