Swedish furniture giant Ikea is investigating claims that payments it made in the 1980s were used to fund Romania's savage communist-era secret police.
Declassified documents from the National College for Studying the Securitate Archives (CNSAS) in Bucharest obtained by the Guardian reportedly show that the retailer paid over the odds for products made in Romania, with a number of the overpayments going into an account managed by the Securitate, Nicolae Ceausescu's notorious secret police agency.
According to the Guardian, the documents seem to suggest that the Swedish firm, which made a record profit of £2.7bn and counted 303 stores in 26 countries in 2013, was complicit in the arrangement.
Ikea, known for its affordable, functional furniture, has denied any knowing involvement and has launched an internal investigation into the issue.
"We're looking to see if there is any basis for these claims and if so, what the reason could be," company spokeswoman Josefin Thorell is quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.
The Guardian suggests that the Securitate "skimmed money" off a deal involving unorthodox financial arrangements that Ikea had in place with state-run timber firm Tehnoforestexport in the 1980s.
"From what we can tell today, we can't see that we've had any dealings with the secret police whatsoever. Our only point of contact was Technoforest," Thorell said.
The much feared Romanian Securitate has been accused of involvement in the torture and murder of many of Ceaucescu's political enemies.
In 2012, Ikea faced questions over its Cold War era conduct and was forced to apologise for using East German political prisoners to build its products in the 1970s and 80s.