Reaction to an article in “TheSwedishWire.com”
Here’s the article. I haven’t asked permission to reprint it, but they get a plug, so they will either be happy or tell me to take it down, in which case I shall talk about freedom of speech and rights to reply and a few other things that we still have – just…
“I sat in my old armchair and cried. I wept like a child because I was so sad,” he said in an interview to tabloid Expressen.
“I am heartbroken about what happened,” he said. “I am very, very sorry.”
The company said Saturday its “representatives in Russia agreed upon bribes being paid, related to power supply to Ikea-owned MEGA shopping centres in Saint Petersburg.”
“Two top managers have left their positions and Ikea with immediate effect,” the group added.
Kamprad is 83 and set up Ikea in 1943 as a teenager.
He said he was informed last Friday that Per Kaufmann, whom he has known for 20 years, and Stefan Gross, were fired for giving the go-ahead to bribes.
Kaufmann was the head of IKEA in Russia and Gross was IKEA’s director of real estate in the country.
“I don’t want to say anything before I know what is behind this,” Kamprad said, adding he had spoken to Kaufmann and “he is sorry, not for his own sake, but for Ikea’s sake, that things happened as they did,” he said.
Kamprad, who lives in tax exile in Switzerland, said he hoped the bribery affair would not hurt the group’s presence in the Russian market.
“I think most Russians understand our situation,” he said.
Ikea has 12 MEGA shopping centres in Russia, all of which are home to an Ikea store and around 150 other tenants.
Ikea is an unlisted, family-owned company and traditionally does not release regular earnings reports.
At the end of last year, Kamprad was the richest man in his adoptive Switzerland with a fortune valued at some 23 billion euros (31 billion dollars).
It’s very interesting isn’t it? After 20 years in Russia, these were, what, the first bribes he paid? His Russia must have been on another planet, then, than the one the rest of us know and love. Yes,love despite the very big problems she still faces, such as very widespread “alternative taxations” as they sometimes call them.
These schemes in Russia are rife and people agree to them in order to get round a tax regime that would be crippling if followed to the letter. If one company tries to go legit and not every competitor at once, it is signing its own suicide note, because immediately that company will stop being competitive, or simply will start making losses. That’s why people like me, who have tried to get businesses to abandon grey schemes and corrupt policies and go legit, have such a hard time making any headway.
So nobody in their right mind believes that this was Ikea’s first time. It would be a bigger miracle than the Baltic needs in today’s other leading story in The Swedish Wire, and we should put Kamprad’s organisation to work immediately giving enemas to herrings and unwrapping the plastic bags off the jellyfish.
These guys have been made the fall guys for something which has come out. Kamprad talks about his broken heart for his organisation not having rendered to C-zar the things that are C-zar’s, whilst sitting pretty in a tax haven, quite legitimately not rendering to his own Queen quite the full sum of taxes he, as a loyal Swede, would be called upon to stay if he stayed put. So, as the next intake of IKEA management fodder read their crocodile-tear-stained copies of “testimony of a furniture maker” (the self-aggrandizing communist manifesto thing he forces everyone in his organization to read and live by), they should bear in mind whenever called upon by their seniors to do anything like cross the official’s palms with silver, that it’ll be them who turn out to be disposable if it ever comes out. They might just want to get into the habit of keeping an additional record of what their seniors ask them to do.
Was Kamprad being whiter than white when he first opened each store in East Europe posing as a high fashion brand, only to return to his usual pitch and prices when the local population got wise to him? Was he being true to his “Testimony” of making well designed things every ordinary person can afford when he practiced price-skimming in each of the markets of New Europe?
Was he true to these democratic principles when he decided to keep all the product names in Svensko-Szwedzki language so that nobody but the Sweazles could really know everything that was going on there? Never once was there offered free to local staff even enough Svensky lessons to enable them even to pronounce the articles properly, let alone get in on the joke of what some of these, often rather lewd namings – reminiscent of that other great Swedish namer, Linnaeus, some of whose names needed bowdlerising by the Victorians – mean? At least Carly von Linnaeus had the common decency to write Systema Naturae in Latin, which in 1758 was still “de rigueur mortis” in the European education system, so it was the equivalent of writing it in English today.
And by the way, I consider the use of the word “traditionally” in the above article to be a euphemism for “untransparently”. How hypocritical to set onesself up as a paragon of corporate virtue, and yet claim exemption from one of the most basic requirements of proper, modern corporate governance?
He should be standing up for those two managers and not sitting there in Liechtenstein pretending to weep on his armchair, while expecting them to take the hit for him. Nobody falls for that.