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Ikea's founder Ingvar Kamprad is "distressed" over a bribery affair which led the Swedish furniture giant to fire the two top managers of its Russian division.
• Ikea turned a blind eye to Russia bribery
"I sat in my old armchair and cried. I wept like a child because I was so sad," he said in an interview to tabloid Expressen.
"I am heartbroken about what happened," he said. "I am very, very sorry."
The company said Saturday its "representatives in Russia agreed upon bribes being paid, related to power supply to Ikea-owned MEGA shopping centres in Saint Petersburg."
"Two top managers have left their positions and Ikea with immediate effect," the group added.
Kamprad is 83 and set up Ikea in 1943 as a teenager.
He said he was informed last Friday that Per Kaufmann, whom he has known for 20 years, and Stefan Gross, were fired for giving the go-ahead to bribes.
Kaufmann was the head of IKEA in Russia and Gross was IKEA's director of real estate in the country.
"I don't want to say anything before I know what is behind this," Kamprad said, adding he had spoken to Kaufmann and "he is sorry, not for his own sake, but for Ikea's sake, that things happened as they did," he said.
Kamprad, who lives in tax exile in Switzerland, said he hoped the bribery affair would not hurt the group's presence in the Russian market.
"I think most Russians understand our situation," he said.
Ikea has 12 MEGA shopping centres in Russia, all of which are home to an Ikea store and around 150 other tenants.
Ikea is an unlisted, family-owned company and traditionally does not release regular earnings reports.
At the end of last year, Kamprad was the richest man in his adoptive Switzerland with a fortune valued at some 23 billion euros (31 billion dollars).
Last Updated (Saturday, 20 February 2010 17:16)