Uzbekistan: Officials 'cashing in on cool number plates'

Bribes of up to $1,000 - about £640 - are changing hands to ensure car owners in Uzbekistan get a "cool" number plate for their cars, it seems.

In a country where drivers were recently filmed in a stampede to get their hands on a new motor, wealthy car owners are willing to pay up to seven times the average salary for a plate with "beautiful numbers" to reflect their status, it's been suggested. As a rule, there's no extra charge for more desirable plates but some officials have reportedly turned their sale into a lucrative business. A survey by news portal Olam.uz suggested a majority of readers were in favour of regulating their sale to ensure money raised at auctions is "channelled in the right direction".

The Bibi.uz website says there's a fashion for having digits on registrations matching, such as in the number 707. Readers also refer to rumours that owners of such plates aren't stopped by traffic police, who assume they're owned by influential people. One said: "Of course, it is impossible to get a number plate with the digits 701 or 010 (because you know who drives cars with these digits)."

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