November 16, 2012 - 19:24 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - IKEA has said it "deeply regrets" the use of political prisoners as forced labor in communist East Germany by some of its suppliers, BBC News reported.
The Swedish furniture giant asked accountants Ernst & Young to look into the matter, dating back 25-30 years.
The study indicates that political and criminal prisoners were involved in manufacturing for IKEA suppliers. It also said that IKEA representatives at the time knew that political prisoners were possibly used.
In the past IKEA had given contracts to the East German (GDR) government.
Former political prisoners of the Stasi, the feared secret police, said they worked on the furniture, leading to IKEA commissioning the Ernst & Young report in May this year.
Those former prisoners may now expect compensation.
Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims' group UOKG, has previously said that IKEA was just one of many companies that benefited from the use of forced prison labor in the former GDR from the 1960s to 1980s.
The group is campaigning for compensation for many former prisoners, whom they say carry psychological and physical scars from the labor they were forced to do.
"IKEA has taken the lead on this, for which we are very grateful," Wagner told a news conference in Berlin, where the findings of the report were presented.
The company said that although it took steps to try to ensure that prisoners were not used in production, "it is now clear that these measures were not effective enough".
Ernst & Young looked at 20,000 pages of documents from IKEA's internal records and 80,000 archived items from German federal and state archives.
They interviewed about 90 people, both current and former IKEA employees and witnesses from the former GDR.