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Ikea managers held in bribery swoop

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19:08 CEST+02:00
Two senior property managers at the furniture giant Ikea in Germany have been held by police on suspicion of bribery.

"Shocking," said Eva Stål at the company's Swedish headquarters.

At the same time, three others have been held after a major police operation across the whole of Germany. Officers raided 21 offices and homes in towns including Bremen, Hamburg and Düsseldorf.

Ikea's German head office in Wallau, near Frankfurt, was also searched in the hunt for evidence.

The two men, aged 56 and 48, are accused of having received cash and goods from a building contractor to a value of approximately 6.5 million kronor. The contractor has also been taken into police custody.

The money is allegedly a bribe to ensure that the building contractor was given work by Ikea, which is continuing to build new stores in Germany.

The prosecutor who is leading the investigation in Frankfurt said the bribes have been paid over the last five years, reported the weekly paper Spiegel.

The 48 year old and the contractor have, according to the prosecutor, "made certain admissions".

In total, some 20 people are suspected of involvement in the corruption.

The allegations came as something of a bombshell to the home contingent of the Swedish company, which prides itself on its squeaky-clean image.

"This business has shocked us deeply, said Eva Stål, the company's press officer in Sweden.

"Confidence in our colleagues is an absolutely fundamental pillar of our culture."

Ikea says it will now follow the investigation closely to understand how it could have happened and to prevent such things happening in future.

Germany is Ikea's largest and most important market.

TT/The Local

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