Swedish furniture giant IKEA said Friday it was sacking four current and former managers at its French subsidiary over allegations they used illegal police files to spy on staff and customers.

"/> Swedish furniture giant IKEA said Friday it was sacking four current and former managers at its French subsidiary over allegations they used illegal police files to spy on staff and customers.

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CRIME

IKEA bosses sacked over spying scandal

Swedish furniture giant IKEA said Friday it was sacking four current and former managers at its French subsidiary over allegations they used illegal police files to spy on staff and customers.

IKEA bosses sacked over spying scandal

French prosecutors in April launched a criminal probe following allegations that IKEA paid for illegal access to secret police files to gain information about employees, clients and even people who came near its property.

In a statement, IKEA said it was firing a former managing director, a former human resources director, a former financial director and the current risk management director. The IKEA France workers were not named.

The firings are because of "practices against values and ethical standards that have unfortunately been noted within IKEA France," the statement added.

IKEA said it "continues to provide its complete support to the judiciary" and has taken measures to prevent a repeat of the alleged crimes.

When the scandal first came to light, IKEA France suspended three managers: former managing director Jean-Louis Baillot, risk management head Jean-Francois Paris and former human resources manager Claire Hery.

In interviews with online newspaper La Tribune, Baillot and Hery both denied any knowledge of spying at IKEA.

Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine broke the story in February by publishing what it said were emails between Paris and Yann Messian of security company Sûreté International about getting access to police STIC files.

The controversial STIC file system has been criticised for being an unreliable database of millions of names and personal information about crime perpetrators, victims and even witnesses.

The newspaper said that Sûreté International offered access to the files for 80 euros (about $100) a time, as well as to a database of vehicle owners. 

The report quoted emails requesting information on employees, including union members, the owners of certain car registrations and the names associated with a list of mobile phone numbers.

IKEA France allegedly asked for police files on a customer who was suing the company for 4,000 euros and for the name of the owner of a car that approached the site of a planned shop. 

Former management at Sûreté International, which was wound up in 2011, have denied responsibility, instead blaming a disgruntled former employee.

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CRIME

French tax agent ‘kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit’

A French tax inspector was kidnapped and killed, reportedly while carrying out a tax audit in a village in northern France on Monday evening.

French tax agent 'kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit'

The 43-year-old tax agent died on Monday night in northern France, with local media Actu Pas-de-Calais reporting that he was killed by the man whom he was auditing, who later died by suicide.

Emergency services were called to the small village of Bullecourt in the Pas-de-Calais département of northern France at around 8pm. Upon arriving they found two men dead and a woman, reported to be another employee of the tax office, tied up.

She was not believed to be seriously injured but was treated for shock. 

The public prosecutor released a statement saying that both tax agents “were carrying out an at-home audit to check the accounts” of the local man reported to be a brocanteur (antique dealer), who then “kidnapped them and tied them up.” 

“The accused then killed himself with a firearm,” according to the prosecutor’s office. 

The mayor of Bullecourt, a small village of 250 inhabitants, told AFP that he remembered the accused antique dealer as a “helpful” and “ordinary person” who had “integrated into the village.”

Gabriel Attal, the Public Accounts Minister, issued a statement on Monday evening expressing his condolences and saying that the tax agent “was simply doing his job” and that “today, he did not return.” The minister lamented that the agent was “killed while completing a tax audit.”

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