Swede wanted in Ikea Russia fraud probe

Russian police said Monday they launched a probe into allegations of fraud and bribery by staff of Swedish retail giant Ikea in Moscow and were seeking to extradite Swedish and Turkish nationals.

Swede wanted in Ikea Russia fraud probe

Three employees including a 35-year-old Swedish executive are suspected of extorting a $225,000 bribe from a businessman, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.

Two Turkish nationals acted as middlemen between the Swede and a businessman who wanted to rent space in Ikea’s Mega shopping centre in southern Moscow, said a spokesman for the ministry’s economic security branch, Andrei Pilipchuk.

In April, police detained one of the Turkish nationals in a Moscow coffee shop as he was receiving the bribe on telephoned instructions from the executive who was away on holiday in Sweden, Pilipchuk added.

The executive is still in Sweden and Russia is requesting extradition, the interior ministry spokesman said, adding that Ikea dismissed the suspect in May.

The detained Turkish man is currently in Moscow and has signed an order barring him from leaving the city, he said.

Ikea on Monday confirmed to AFP that several of its former employees are under investigation and said it was “completely cooperating with the investigators,” declining further comment.

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Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.