15 October 2007 | Antony Barton
A purchaser for furniture chain Ikea has been jailed for two years for accepting over £1 million in bribes.
John Brown pleaded guilty to corruption charges at Birmingham Crown Court, along with his sales colleague Paul Hoult, who received 13 months' imprisonment also for taking bribes.
The two evaded Ikea's purchasing limits to obtain orders from companies run by Adam Hauxwell-Smith, who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Ikea's policy prevents it from taking more than 40 per cent of a supplier's turnover, to prevent over-reliance on Ikea's business.
In this case Ikea took virtually all the supplies produced by Hauxwell-Smith's companies, which provided Christmas crackers, pot pourri, candles and kettles. He made payments to the two Ikea staff to prevent this being discovered and to ensure his companies' supplies and invoices would be approved. The Serious Fraud Office said there was eventually a position where Hauxwell-Smith dictated what Ikea would order, based on the goods he had available.
The offences took place between 1998 and 2000. Staff at Ikea became suspicious when discrepancies arose between amounts invoiced and goods received. The case was referred to the Serious Fraud Office after an internal inquiry.