They called him the “sausage king.” Former senator who spent time in jail returns to the Rich List every year

They called him the "sausage king." Former senator who spent time in jail returns to the Rich List every year

In the north of Wielkopolska he created a business empire. He made billions on the poultry market and carrion disposal. He has slaughterhouses, plants and butcher shops, fish ponds, guesthouses, an internet portal and a weekly. The fortune of Henryk Stokłosa and his family is estimated at PLN 2.7 billion.

Businessman Henryk Stokłosa, who together with his family ranked 21st on this year’s Wprost Rich List (tied with Antoni Ptak), has permanently entered the history books. Not because of his wealth, but becauseand as the only non-communist candidate, and at the same time not associated with “Solidarity”, he was elected to the Senate of the Republic of Poland of the first term. He held the senator’s mandate continuously for the next 16 years.

Henryk Stokłosa’s election sausage in 1989

The 1989 contract elections were a kind of referendum on whether Poles wanted the continuation of the Polish People’s Republic or were ready for a reconstruction of the system. The old-school politicians were challenged by the activists of “Solidarity” – but Henryk Stokłosa was not a member of the “Lech team”, and in addition he had been a member of the Polish United Workers’ Party for many years. He should have failed miserably, but he achieved a great result.

Did he win thanks to his charisma and the sympathy that the residents of northern Wielkopolska had for him? Not at all. Experts believe that his success was due to a well-thought-out election campaign that was ahead of its time. Stokłosa organized festivals with music and lotteries. He invited popular artists of the time, such as Papa Dance. Voters really liked it: beer was flowing at the festivals, and you could also get free sausages.

Because it all started with sausage.

Lord of Śmiłów

In 1980, Henryk Stokłosa, a graduate of the Agricultural University in Poznań, founded a craft company for the utilization of agricultural and breeding waste, Farmutil HS, in Śmiłów (near Piła). He gradually expanded his business and eventually became one of the largest employers in the former Piła province. The plants grew, as did the scale of operations. In the late 1990s, neighbors (or at least those who did not work in meat plants and were not afraid to cross him) began to complain about the terrible stench that hung over the area day and night, and its source was the slaughterhouse.

“I remember that smell to this day, it lingered for many years. In the PKS bus going to Piła, where I went to high school in the late 90s, we all held our noses. Some also covered their eyes so as not to see the various pathologies associated with Stokłosa’s activities,” wrote Onet journalist Łukasz Cieśla.

There wasn’t really anyone to complain to about possible irregularities in the slaughterhouse, or perhaps in other parts of the plant. Stokłosa not only employed half of the local population, but also had a reputation as an honest employer who took care of his people. He financed vacation trips for children from Śmiłów, and provided food to the most needy families. At that time, he was also the owner of the local “Tygodnik Nowy”, where he dealt uncompromisingly with political opponents.

For PiS, it was a symbol of old arrangements.

In the early 2000s, residents of nearby towns began to unite against Stokłosa, who had no regard for the standards concerning the impact of a large company on the environment. The Ecological Association of Friends of the Noteć Land was founded, whose members were called “eco-terrorists” in the senator’s newspaper.

In 2005, Stokłosa was not elected to the Senate for the first time, as his immunity was no longer protected. Troubles began.

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