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Russia in pursuit of former IKEA executive

Dec. 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Russian authorities said they charged a Swedish national and former IKEA executive with extortion.

The Interior Ministry did not release the former executive's name, but said he directed IKEA Real Estate Russia and was involved with a scheme to extort $360,000 from a prospective tenant at a shopping mall near Moscow, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

Gazeta.ru identified the suspect as Ola Ingvaldson, citing police sources.

IKEA said it was cooperating "within the framework of the investigation," but did not issue details.

With two accomplices identified as Turkish citizens, Ingvaldson allegedly shook down the prospective tenant at the mall, saying the $360,000 would clear up problems with the lease. At the same time, the schemers allegedly held up a lease signing intentionally.

"One of his two accomplices, a Turkish citizen aged 43 who also worked at the company, suggested that the tenant pay $360,000 to help settle the problem with the lease," authorities said.

Authorities also said they nabbed one of the accomplices who accepted payment at a Moscow cafe in a sting operation.

Ingvaldson faces up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $11 million if convicted of bribery.

Russia has asked Sweden and Turkey to extradite the two at-large accomplices, who are thought to be back in their home countries.

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