WikiLeaks: Bulgarian Diplomats Don't Pay Parking Tickets
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
DEPT PASS TO USAID WASHDC
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PARM BU
SUBJECT: Resolving Bulgaria's Unpaid Parking Tickets; Advancing our
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.
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
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.
The original text of the cable can be found HERE.
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