IKEA Funded a Secret Police in the 1980s

Andrei Tapalaga

The president of Romania in the communist era Nicolae Ceausescu at a meeting with agents from the Secret policeWikimedia Commons

The last decade of communism within Eastern Europe can be seen as the golden age for many Eastern European countries, but one of them stands out for really bringing their country to a peak. Within history, every country has a peak of greatness and during the 1980s it was Romania’s time for glory not only within Europe but most of the World.

It is impressive how much Romania had managed to create and build in the communist era (1947–1989) to the point where they would outshine most of the countries. What is even more impressive is that Romania during the 1980s managed to actually go debt-free, owning no money international bank, but actually lending money to other countries which annoyed the world powers.

The Romanian Secret Police

Some agents of the Romanian Secret Police at their inaugurationWikimedia Commons

Although Romania looked great during its communist time, behind the political stage was a complete mess for which one organization had been created to clean it up. The Romanian secret police known as “Securitate” (translated to “the security”) is still considered one of the most brutal and vicious secret organizations within Europe.

Before we go into this case further I want to present some of the practices used by the Romanian Secret Police. These were men that were chosen carefully, men that can be trustworthy but, for the wrong reason. Their main job was to do Nicolae Ceausescu’s messy work such as killing or torturing other political opponents during his long-ruling of over 20 years.

Even how cunning they may sound, Nicolae Ceausescu was still not happy with their actions as he thought they needed to be even harsher so that people that want to go against him will not only fear his ruling but also his capabilities by controlling such a powerful secret service. Ceausescu just simply had too many connections and because of the big economic boom that was happening in Romania at the time, he was only attracting allies.

Although Romania was facing an economic boom, the general population was mostly confined to the lower social class and with a lack of variety within food products as well as rationing food in order to export even more outside of the country to make more wealth for the government.

The organization was made up of a carefully chosen man who had one job, to secure the stability of the communist government and maintain order within the civil population by killing anyone who tried to start a revolt against the communist government. Even to this day, the identity of ex-members of the secret police is kept secret due to the atrocious things they had done.

IKEA’s involvement with the Romanian Communist Government

It has been found out in a declassified file at the national college for studying the secret police archives (CNSAS: Consiliul National pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitatii) in Bucharest suggested that the Swedish furniture firm known as IKEA had agreed to be “overcharged” for products made in Romania. Of course that IKEA has denied any accusations made towards their name however, this has launched an internal investigation.

CNSAS is an organization specially made in the 90s to analyze all the files gathered by the Romanian Secret Police.

IKEA LogoWikimedia Commons

For those that are not aware of IKEA, it is a Swedish furniture retailer and right now it is the biggest furniture retailer in the world. There have also been lost accounts found through the archive showing the secret police receiving six-figure payments from IKEA hidden under some sort of “deal” with the Swedish and even rumors that the Swedish government had been involved, but nothing in the archives mention this.

The file that was found codenamed “Scandinavica” contained different reports and bank statements from the secret police with some attached agreements between Tehnoforestexport and IKEA describing how the secret service got into this deal in the first place. Tehnoforestexport is the company that was crafting furniture in Romania at the time for IKEA to sell.

A note from May 1986 which had been written by a senior official of the secret service states that in March 1983 they were given the task to execute some special currency operation which consisted of collecting 1.85% commission from the arrangement made with IKEA to be overcharged. So besides overcharging IKEA, the secret police were also taking a commission which was the reason for overcharging as some analysts of the archives have presumed.

There was also a second note found from the Ministry of External Affairs, department of state security from September 1986 and stamped top-secret, sole copy. The document states that the “Scandinavica” currency operation was initiated with the aim of gaining financial resources (foreign currency) by overcharging the payments made between Tehnoforestexport and IKEA of Sweden. The contract was valued at approximately 97 million Swedish crowns (13.6 million US dollars at the time/ if we take into consideration inflation that would be 45 million US dollars today).

A bank statement shows that Ikea had transferred in the Secret service’s transitory account the sum of 163,005.201 Swedish crowns (that is almost 17 million US dollars/ 58 million today). The statement was signed by a man under the name of “Eftimie Gelu” who revealed to be a declassified agent of the secret police. However, the name stated previously was a fake name to maintain his real identity undercover, his real name appears to be Constantin Anghelache. Please do pay attention as this was only one payment from many others made. Anghelache was interviewed on this topic however he has refused to comment in order to keep his family safe.

This operation had finished in 1988 when Ikea stopped doing business with Tehnoforestexport. Even if their dirty business would have kept going, it would have been finished by the revolution which took place in 1989. I presume that next time you will see yourself in IKEA you will keep in mind that they have been funding murderers so be careful when eating those Swedish meatballs.

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