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Diplomats owe $16 million in unpaid NYC parking tickets. Who owes most?

The biggest NYC scofflaw? Egypt tops a list of 180 countries with unpaid parking tickets. Egypt owes nearly $2 million, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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    Police cars fill an intersection in Times Square in New York, Sept. 17, 2014. New York police have been busy writing tickets for foreign diplomats, but many haven't been paid.
    (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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New York City is owed over $16 million in unpaid parking tickets issued to foreign diplomatic vehicles.

The Department of Finance says Egypt tops the list of more than 180 countries with nearly $2 million in outstanding debt as of this summer.

The Wall Street Journal says five countries owe more than $500,000: Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil, Morocco and Pakistan.

Most of the debt is from tickets issued before 2002. Since then, the amount has been drastically reduced due to a city crackdown of unpaid parking tickets.

Egypt's U.N. mission spokesman tells the Journal he didn't have details about the issue.

Officials for Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan declined to comment. A spokesman for Brazil says it asked the city for more information. A message left at Nigeria's U.N. mission wasn't returned.

The Journal reports that this is a chronic problem:

The U.S. Department of State issues special license plates to the diplomatic community, which is required to pay parking tickets. For decades, the city has struggled to collect on tickets because a laissez-faire policy largely allowed diplomats and consular officials to ignore the tickets without penalty.

For example, from April 1997 to November 2002, members of the diplomatic community accrued roughly $23 million in unpaid summonses.

After years of getting criticized for the situation, the city took action in 2002. Under a Bloomberg administration program begun that year, the city asks the State Department to surrender the license plates of certain diplomatic ticket scofflaws or decline the renewal of their registration.

The State Department has forced the diplomatic community to surrender plates about 70 times for unpaid tickets in the past decade, city officials said, and refused to renew registrations hundreds of times.

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Information from: The Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com

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