WikiLeaks: Bulgarian Diplomats Don't Pay Parking Tickets

Views on BG | August 27, 2011, Saturday // 12:38| Views: | Comments: 0
WikiLeaks: Bulgarian Diplomats Don't Pay Parking Tickets: WikiLeaks: Bulgarian Diplomats Don't Pay Parking Tickets The site Balkanleaks, an analogue of Wikileaks has full freedom to publish US diplomatic cables, under strict security measures. File photo

The following US diplomatic cable by Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Sofia Alex Karagiannis was released by WikiLeaks and their Bulgarian partner, the site for investigative journalism Bivol.bg.

UNCLAS SOFIA 000940

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO USAID WASHDC

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAID PREL PARM BU

SUBJECT: Resolving Bulgaria's Unpaid Parking Tickets; Advancing our

MSP Goals

В¶1. (SBU) This is an action request, see para 3.

В¶2.  (SBU) In June, the Department sent a diplomatic note to the

Bulgarian Embassy requesting the GOB pay USD 316,082 in accumulated

parking tickets by September 1, or lose USD 449,951 in USG

assistance for FY07.  In reviewing the available data, Post is

uncertain that these figures are accurate.  Before proceeding to any

withholding of assistance monies, we should reconcile what seems to

be confusing and contradictory recordkeeping.  Moreover, as Bulgaria

is not receiving FY07 USAID assistance; any cut would have to come

from Bulgaria's FMF account, which we are using to build the

capabilities of our Bulgarian ally for missions in support of U.S.

and coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

В¶3. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Post requests Washington's assistance in

ascertaining the true value of outstanding fines owed by the GOB.

The Bulgarian Ambassador to Washington has indicated her willingness

to work with her government to get this money paid.  Post has, and

will continue to, vigorously pursue this matter.  To achieve maximum

traction, it is essential to determine precisely what Bulgaria

actually owes, and what we have previously withheld.  With that

information, we can turn to the larger policy question whether it is

in our interests to decrease U.S. military assistance to an ally

standing by us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Competing Accounting

--------------------

В¶4. (SBU) Post has been unable to reconcile the available data as to

what Bulgaria actually owes in unpaid fines and penalties.  An

F-provided spreadsheet outlines accumulated DC and NYC parking fines

from FY98 to FY07, totaling USD 409,047.  Calculating at 110 percent

in order to determine the assistance withholding figure, that

spreadsheet shows USD 449,952 as a balance due.  It also shows that

USG assistance to Bulgaria over the same period was reduced by USD

133,869, to leave Bulgaria currently owing USD 316,083 to clear its

arrears.  Unfortunately, this spreadsheet is confusing and

contradictory.  Some data fields appear to show fines earned in that

discrete year, while other data fields in the same column appear to

show accumulated totals.  It shows withholding for years 1998, 1999,

2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006 but not for 2003 and 2004.

Interestingly, F's chart shows those USD 56,232 and USD 266,387

under the column "Balance Due" for those years, with no entries

under withholdings.  But, we suspect that these figures may have

been mis-entered in the wrong column.

В¶5. (SBU) A different F spreadsheet shows assistance to have been

withheld from FY 2001 through FY 2006 - including both FY 2003 and

В¶2004.  But, USAID/Bulgaria has a slightly different set of numbers.

According to those spreadsheets, both USAID/Bulgaria and F show the

same withheld amounts for 2001 (USD 710), 2002 (USD 107,496), 2003

(USD 56,232), 2004 (USD 266,387) and 2005 (USD 17,683).  In 2006,

USAID/Bulgaria's records indicate USD 68,000 was withheld, while F's

chart only shows USD 4,098 in deductions.  The first F spreadsheet

shows Bulgaria owes USD 316,083.  The second F spreadsheet shows USD

452,786 was withheld from FY01-FY06; and USAID figures show USD

516,508 was withheld from FY01 through FY06.  Both the latter

figures are above what Bulgaria is shown to owe in fines and

penalties.

В¶6. (SBU) We request that Washington re-certify the numbers and

reconcile the USAID and F numbers.  With a clean sheet, we can

credibly go to the Bulgarians that they make good on what they owe

New York and District.

Military Aid for an Ally in Iraq and Afghanistan

--------------------------------------------- ---

В¶7. (SBU) Once we have accurate numbers, we can then determine if

additional funds must be withheld.  If that is the case, we must

determine whether it is in U.S. national interests to tap into the

FMF account at a time when we are using that to bolster our ally's

capability to contribute in Iraq and Afghanistan.  USAID is not

providing assistance to Bulgaria with FY07 funds; and naturally

there is no FY07 USAID assistance to cut.  Any withholding would

come from Bulgaria's Foreign Military Financing (FMF).  Our FMF

assistance goes to improving Bulgaria's capabilities to work with

U.S. and NATO forces in its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cutting FMF at the USD 316,083 level would effectively remove

provision of three HMMWVs from our assistance to Bulgaria - HMMWVs

which Bulgaria would deploy to fulfill its Iraq and Afghanistan

missions.  HMMWVs were a key topic in President Bush's June meetings

in Sofia.   Embassy Sofia recommends strongly that we scrub our

numbers for accuracy and then have an inter-agency policy discussion

before looking to the FMF account for any withholding.

KARAGIANNIS

The original text of the cable can be found HERE.

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