Romania: MP Bribed Voters With 60 Tons of Chicken

A former member of Romania’s parliament was sentenced this week to two years in prison for attempting to bribe voters with 60 tons of chicken, reported national press agency AGERPRES.

chicken(Photo: AivisV, Deviantart)Florin Aurelian Popescu, dubbed the “Chicken Baron” by local news agencies, resigned from his parliamentary post earlier this month. He had appealed against his December 2015 conviction, only to have the appeal dismissed by a panel of five judges at the Supreme Court.

In a 2014 news release on Popescu’s indictment, anti-corruption prosecutors said Popescu had used his influence and authority as chairman of a political party to arrange hand over of “undue benefits” to his constituency in Dambovita County, southern Romania.

The benefits consisted of 60 tons of chicken worth about US$ 122,000. These were given to Dambovita County citizens as part of Popescu’s 2012 local election campaign, prosecutors said.  At the time, Popescu was a candidate for a new term as president of the county council.

The investigation began when an unidentified whistleblower reported Popescu to the authorities.

The news release said that an intermediary for Popescu approached the unnamed whistleblower in early March 2012 and said that each of the local branches of the major parties needed € 250,000 (US$ 283,331) each.

The whistleblower told the intermediary the amount of money was too large, and he could only provide € 100,000 (US$ 113, 266) to each party.     

Popescu organized meetings at the headquarters of his party, the Liberal Democratic Party, at the end of that month. Campaign coordinators in the county and candidates running for mayoral positions for several cities attended the meetings.

During the meetings, Popescu told them he would be sending them food for distribution to citizens living in the cities where they were running for local elections.

Popescu went to the whistleblower and ordered 60 to 80 tons of chicken, saying he would give it to citizens in exchange for their vote. They agreed that the meat would be deposited in the cold storage of another company.

“On April 5, 2012 several people sent by Florin Popescu loaded the chicken into vans and took it to various locations where it was distributed,” said investigators cited by the Telegraph. “All the packages of chicken were distributed for election purposes.”