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the former director of security recognizes “mass checks” of employees

“Mass checks” of employees within Ikea France: the former director of the company’s security acknowledged Thursday before the Versailles criminal court that a system of “verification” had indeed existed there , reviving the question of the responsibility of the leaders. Criminal record, heritage, lifestyle, family situation and even children’s first names: the president on Thursday defined the scope of these “checks” which targeted employees but also customers with whom the French subsidiary of the Swedish furniture giant was in dispute.

According to the prosecution, the lives of several hundred people, including trade unionists, have been scrutinized throughout France. If, for prescription issues, the defendants appear for facts covering the period 2009-2012, according to the investigation, these practices date back to the early 2000s. In this so-called espionage case, the trial of which began on Monday, Ikea France , sued as a legal person, incurs a fine of up to 3.75 million euros. Fifteen natural persons are also on trial, including store managers, police officers and former managers such as former CEO Stefan Vanoverbeke (2010-2015) and his predecessor Jean-Louis Baillot.

At the heart of this “system” is Jean-François Paris, director of risk management at Ikea France from 2002 to 2012, now 56 years old. He admitted having transmitted lists of people “to be tested” – received from store managers – to Jean-Pierre Fourès, a former police officer of the private investigation company Eirpace.

“Mass checks” costing several tens of thousands of euros per year

Now retired, Jean-Pierre Fourès is accused of having answered him by drawing confidential data from a computerized police file. Thus in Bordeaux, e-mail exchanges between 2003 and 2008 reveal the concerns of Mr. Paris about “a model employee who became very demanding overnight”. “We would like to know where this change comes from”, he asked, “various proselytism? (…) Risk of ecoterrorist threat?”

In 2003, in Vitrolles (Bouches-du-Rhône), Jean-François Paris also wonders about the lifestyle of “our friend” who “drives in a convertible BMW (new)”. From 2000, we were confronted with a series of armed robberies in stores, “he said Monday at the helm to justify this system. Thursday, dressed in a sober navy suit, always with calm and precision , the safety manager pointed out the responsibility of the CEO Jean-Louis Baillot who, during a lunch at the company restaurant, would have decided that the employees would henceforth be “checked”, “so as not to reproduce these errors”.

This monitoring was either “one-off, at the request of store managers” or “generalized” during the opening of stores, said Mr. Paris. “Mass checks” which ceased in 2011 “because Mr. Baillot left Ikea France,” he also asserted. “It cost a certain amount,” said Jean-François Paris. According to the survey, the subsidiary allocated a budget of 30,000 to 600,000 euros per year to several investigative companies.

“Everyone knew”

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Three of the invoices attributable to the company Eirpace were countersigned by the administrative and financial director at the time, Dariusz Rychert, who maintained at the helm that he knew nothing about this surveillance system. Claiming that he was working “in confidence” with Mr. Paris, who had “carte blanche” on spending up to 50,000 euros, he argued that “the company was brewing millions” and that he “did not have the time “to” check every line of every invoice “. After the revelation of the affair in the press, Jean-François Paris was “dismissed” by the management.

“When the direction of communication asked to deny (the facts), I said that it was not possible because everyone knew it”, released the ex-person in charge. “Very quickly, the company detached itself from its responsibilities”, he added, tackling the “cowardice of the company which set up this system”. “I took the measure of the seriousness of the facts (…) of the damage caused in our lives to all”, concluded Jean-François Paris before apologizing “to all those he has injured”.

The director of human resources of Ikea France from 2005 to 2009 Claire Héry also denied Thursday having heard of a monitoring system for employees. Accused of having inquired about a senior executive suspected of violating the terms of her sick leave, she claimed to have carried out research “within the framework of the law” and “at the request of Jean-Louis Baillot”.

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