Ikea founder admits to mistakes in Russia

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The founder of Ikea admitted Monday that his group "wandered off course" in Russia as it became wrapped up in a bribery scandal that resulted in dismissals of two senior executive.

"I was too optimistic" Swedish furniture giant's founder Ingvar Kamprad said in a statement.

"As shocking and upsetting as it is to admit, our organisation wandered off course. And for that I feel my personal, moral responsibility."

The company admitted in February that two of its senior managers had agreed to pay bribes "related to power supply to Ikea-owned MEGA shopping centres in Saint Petersburg."

Ikea has 12 MEGA shopping centres in Russia, all of which are home to an Ikea store and around 150 other tenants.

The bribery allegation initially prompted the company to threaten to freeze all further investments in Russia.

But Kamprad said checks conducted by the Ernst & Young, PwC and KPMG auditing firms showed "shortcoming in the work of our (Russian) division."

Vowing to introduce new management standards, Kamprad said his company was staying in Russia over the long term.

"We see enormous potential for business development in Russia. We are here in all seriousness and for the long term," the Ikea chief said.

Ikea is an unlisted, family-owned company that traditionally does not release regular earnings reports.

At the end of last year, Kamprad was reported being the richest man in his adoptive Switzerland with a fortune valued at some 23 billion euros (30 billion dollars).

© 2010 AFP

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