Evgeny Friedman told to keep safe the Citigroup tower area in Queens where taxis were set to be abandoned
A man dubbed the “New York Taxi King” because of his huge fleet of yellow cabs was set to surrender 46 taxi cabs and their medallions after a court dispute over a $34 million unpaid loan with Citibank NA, court papers revealed.
A native of Russia, Evgeny Freidman took over his father’s modest taxi business in 1996 and expanded it into one of the New York City’s largest taxi fleets.
A bankruptcy judge blocked Freidman from his plan to abandon these 46 taxis outside the Citigroup tower in Queens after his very public dispute with the lender.
In court, Bankruptcy judge Carla Craig instructed Mr. Freidman and his lawyers to keep the taxicabs in his possession under further notice.
Papers revealed that Mr. Freidman was unable to refinances his debt to Citibank NA and told the judge he would surrender the medallions.
Freidman had tried to keep Citibank from taking possession of the 46 taxi medallions by putting a large part of his taxi companies in bankruptcy protection in 2015.
In New York City, a medallion is required in order to legally pick up passengers flagging on the street. You cannot operate a taxi in New York without one.
While Mr. Freidman’s lawyers advised it was largely due to a bank error, Citibank representatives advised that Mr. Freidman’s companies missed making a monthly loan payment in December 2014. Citibank denied any bank error and also denied additional allegations that the bank was trying to win business from Uber, the new transportation service that had taken some customers away from taxi drivers.
The competition is as fierce as ever in the for-hire transportation industry as newer ride-hailing services continued to put pressure on traditional taxi companies. Across the country taxis, which are regulated by local governments on everything from price to the color of the cars, struggle to compete with cheaper alternatives.
Despite this trend, Mr. Freidman has remained optimistic that taxi companies will rebound and continue to profit. He strongly felt that the medallions will continue to hold their value and therefore proposed a loan payment plan over the duration of five years. The Bankruptcy judge rejected this payment plan.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer