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IKEA denies knowledge of possible Cuba prison labor

This news story was published on December 14, 2012.
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By Juan O. Tamayo, The Miami Herald –

MIAMI — Furniture giant IKEA reported Friday that its investigation found no evidence the company knew of the possible use of Cuban political prisoners to manufacture goods, and that there were no long-term business relations with suppliers in Cuba.

The company issued an apology after its investigators from the Ernst & Young firm confirmed reports that IKEA used prison labor in communist East Germany 25 to 30 years ago.

But the report also concluded that IKEA “never had any long-term business relations with suppliers in Cuba and that there is no evidence that the IKEA Group was aware of the possible use of political prisoners in Cuba.”

News media reports earlier this year indicated that IKEA officials in West Germany had contacted an enterprise controlled by East German authorities to consider the possibility of manufacturing IKEA furniture in Cuba.

The Cuban enterprises considered were identified as government-run companies that run the manufacturing plants in Cuban prisons.

The Ernst & Young report made public Friday concluded that 71 sofa suites — a sofa and two matching chairs — were produced in Cuba as samples for the IKEA Group.

At least one set was sent to the former East Germany for quality inspection by associates of the IKEA Group but the furniture did not meet quality requirements, according to the report.

“There is no evidence that the IKEA Group received other products produced in Cuba,” it added.

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