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IKEA execs charged over snooping allegations

Tuesday - 11/19/2013, 6:19pm  ET

FILE - In this Sunday July 12, 2009, file photo, customers are seen at the entrance of an IKEA store in Plaisir, France. Officials say senior executives of IKEA France are in police custody Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, over allegations that they illegally spied on employees and customers. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)

Associated Press

PARIS (AP) -- France issued preliminary charges Tuesday against the CEO and chief financial officer of IKEA France in a case alleging they snooped illegally on employees and customers.

IKEA France confirmed the charges were brought late Tuesday against CEO Stefan Vanoverbeke and finance chief Dariusz Rycher, who both were held for questioning Monday and Tuesday. The company said in a statement it was cooperating in the case.

Alexis Gublin, Vanoverbeke's lawyer, said former CEO Jean-Louis Baillot -- among four executives fired after the alleged spying came to light -- also faced preliminary charges. Similar legal action has been taken against at least two police officers, according to an official close to the investigation, who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Gublin said Vanoverbeke was looking forward to clearing his name.

"He was the one who took corrective measures as soon as the problems were discovered," Gublin said late Tuesday.

Baillot also has denied knowing anything about the snooping.

In addition to the sackings, IKEA France has instituted a code of conduct in response to the investigation, which began in April 2012. Two unions have filed complaints against IKEA, accusing them of spying on hundreds of employees and customers over at least five years by gaining access to private police files. IKEA France is a subsidiary of Swedish furniture giant IKEA.

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