As U.S. motorists continue to reel over gas prices, New York City officials say representatives from oil-producing nations are gouging American taxpayers on other fronts.
Councilman Eric Giola told reporters on Sunday that U.N. diplomats owe the Big Apple more than $18 million in parking fines and a whopping $57 million in property taxes.
At an adhoc news conference held in a park over looking U.N. headquarters, Giola told reporters he was "fed up" with the delegates stiffing city hall.
The property tax fight between the city and the diplomats recently went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of New York.
Those taxes, however, still remain unpaid. Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said, "We are working with all countries that still owe property taxes as well as with the State Department to collect outstanding parking ticket revenue."
There are several major oil producing states that owe the city on a list that was released by Giola: Kuwait, $1.9 million; Nigeria, $975,000; Indonesia, $686,000; Sudan, $472,000;
Add to that $57 million more in property taxes owed by India, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
Coincidentally, Israel, which once led the Big Apple scofflaw list, was nowhere to be found in 2008. Israeli diplomats told Newsmax that Ambassador Dan Gillerman solved their parking-fines problem when he ordered all his personnel who had traffic fines to pay the fines from their own pockets.
Though not an oil-producing country, Egypt owes big. Egyptians owe more than $1.9 million in unpaid parking fines alone. Yet, the Egyptian U.N. mission continues to ignore city hall.
The ambassador, Maged Abdelaziz, has had a recent history of clashes with both the State Department and the Bloomberg administration.
Last September, during the 2007 U.N. General Assembly, the Egyptian diplomat had several confrontations with the U.S. Secret Service and New York police officers (Newsmax: Oct. 5, 2007 "Egyptian U.N. Ambassador Clashes With U.S. Secret Service," Oct. 14, 2007 "Controversy Rages On With Egyptian U.N. Ambassador").
The incidents involved entering so-called "frozen" or "secure" areas around U.N. headquarters which led to the threat of arrest by federal and local police.
The U.S. Secret Service told Newsmax that the diplomat spat at one special agent and only left the scene when threatened with arrest.
The ambassador subsequently filed a written protest with the State Department about the confrontation. Washington rejected the Egyptian complaint as did the US Secret Service and the New York police.
Calls for comment to the Egyptian U.N. mission were not returned.
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