Expatica news

IKEA tried to pay blackmailers EUR 250,000

29 July 2004

AMSTERDAM — Swedish home furnishings chain IKEA tried to pay EUR 250,000 at the end of 2002 to blackmailers who had threatened to bomb its Dutch outlets, it was revealed in the Amsterdam Court on Thursday.

But IKEA had been unable to make contact with the blackmailers, despite receiving a threatening letter demanding it send an SMS message to a German telephone number. The company did not receive any reaction to the sent message.

Two men appeared in court on Thursday charged with the blackmail attempt, in which a letter was received at the Amsterdam IKEA outlet on 3 December 2002. The letter was written in poor German and signed by Carlos II, news agency ANP reported.

The letter demanded the payment of blackmail amounting to EUR 250,000 — to be paid in used bank notes — and alerted the company that bombs had been placed in the Sliedrecht and Amsterdam stores. It also warned that a third bomb would be detonated at another store.

In response to the threat, IKEA closed all of its 10 stores in the Netherlands on 4 December 2002 and police were called in to search every building for the presence of more bombs.

While IKEA tried to make contact with “Carlos II”, explosives were found in the Amsterdam and Sliedrecht stores and a bomb disposal expert was injured when trying to disarm the Sliedrecht bomb at a local police station.

But the two Polish nationals who appeared in the Amsterdam Court on Thursday denied all allegations levelled against them. They also remained firm on their statements that they had driven two Russians to the Netherlands to allow them to inspect the camera surveillance of the IKEA stores.

The suspects are men aged 24 and 56. They were arrested in Portugal at the start of 2003 and the public prosecution claims it has video images and other evidence implicating the men in the blackmail attempt.

Furthermore, it claims that a tape recording of a threatening phone call made against IKEA matches the voice with one of the suspects. And based on the language errors made in the threatening letter, it is alleged that it had been written by Polish nationals.

The investigation into the case has taken an extended period of time due to necessary co-operation between German, Polish and Portuguese police. The trial will be conducted on Thursday and Friday and ruling will be given in about two weeks.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news