The founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad. Photo: Thord Nilsson/Scanpix

Ikea run by foundation based in Lichtenstein

5:52 min

Swedish Television's investigative programme Uppdrag Granskning reports that the founder of global furniture chain Ikea is controlling the company from behind the scenes while at the same time paying as little tax in Sweden as possible.

In Sweden Ikea is not just a company - it is an institution that the Swedish people regularly rate as the one that they trust the most.

But the details from SVT's Uppdrag Granskning seem to show a company with a very shadowy ownership structure, still controlled by its supposedly hands-off founder Ingvar Kamprad, and which has siphoned off about 100 billion Swedish kronor to the 'Interogo Foundation' - based in Lichtenstein, and hence effectively paying no tax.

But Ikea's press spokesperson in Sweden,Ylva Magnusson, says these are not surprising revelations for her, and that she does not recognise the picture of Ikea painted by the programme.

"We have been very open towards the programme. We have answered all the questions they forwarded to us and allowed them to film in our stores."

"What is new is the name of the foundation, but that Ikea is owned by foundations has been known for many years."

And she says that Ikea does pay tax in every country that it work in, and that in Sweden in the last 10 years it has paid six billion SEK in tax.

Kenny Adersjö is one of the editors on Uppdrag Granskning. He says that representatives of Ikea are now trying to play down the revelations from his programme, saying that it was all known already.

"Our story yesterday shows another picture, not even the top directors were willing to discuss the issue earlier, and they didn't even know the name of the foundation in Lichtenstein."

"They have been very very rich and successful carrying this Swedishness around the world, but they are very quick to reduce their tax payment in Sweden."

Lennart Wiebull is a media researcher from Gothernburg university, invovled in the yearly trust barometer. He says this kind of investigation of Ikea is not likely to harm the company's standing in the eyes of the Swedish people.

"The trust in Ikea and the trust in Kamprad is so strong that criticism of this kind will not affect the picture very much."

"If you have a very strong trust in anything it seems that you will very often instead criticise those who report something negative about that thing."

But Kenny Adersjö, at Uppdrag Granskning says that this is a good reason for taking a good long look at this Swedish icon.

"It's a story about Swedishness - is it ok to discuss this kind of issue?"

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