NEW YORK - It may be chump change, but some foreign diplomats have started paying up on more than $21 million in past-due parking fines and penalties.
The payments, ranging from $220 to $845, were made after New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani recently threatened to tow the cars of diplomats who owe more than $230 for tickets - starting Aug. 1.
The consulates of the countries now paying their debts are not the worst offenders - some missions still owe millions in tickets and penalties. But city officials said several consulate officials promised to make some payments by Aug. 1.
Nigeria - among the worst offenders with $1.4 million unpaid - is "reviewing" the situation and has yet to fork over any cash.
Still, city officials hailed the money they have received as what they hope is the beginning of a trend.
"We are encouraged these countries have come forward to fulfill their obligations and hope other countries soon follow their lead," said a spokesman for the mayor.
Last month news reports indicated that foreign diplomats racked up $21.3 million in fines on 200,000 tickets issued between 1997 and 2000.