Argentine navy frigate ‘Libertad’ retained in Ghana by group of defaulted bond holders
Argentina claimed on Wednesday that the navy school training frigate “Libertad” has been retained in Ghana and blamed “unscrupulous financers” belonging to “vulture funds” who are demanding the payment of sovereign bonds, said the office of Minister Hector Timerman in an official communiqué.
In a statement with the heading “An artful attack from the vulture funds against Argentina” the Foreign ministry said that the frigate Libertad has been delayed in Ghana because of a demand presented by the NML Group before the high court of that country.
“The Argentine Foreign ministry is already involved in the case informing the African authorities of the ‘scam’ mounted by these unscrupulous financers”, said the release from San Martin Palace.
From Ghana, Richard Anamoo head of ports authority said that he was acting on instructions from the high court. “The owners of the vessel will have to pay up or defend themselves in court”, he underlined.
The administration of President Cristina Fernandez has said that the measure is “a violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity”.
Between 2005 and 2010, Argentina restructured 93% of its (2001) defaulted sovereign debt (approx 100bn dollars) with bond holders, but the remnant of bonds is in the hands of speculative funds or vulture funds, which demand total reimbursement of the debt plus interests by litigating before courts. Argentine also has a pending debt of 6.5bn dollars with the Paris Club of creditor nations.
According to the Argentine ministry report the NML Group belongs to “the international speculator Paul Singer and the main financer of the lobby which is acting before US courts and Congress under the name of ATFA (American Task Force Argentina) with the clear purpose of harming Argentina”
With the swap operations offered by Argentina during five years, it had the acceptance of big banks and international finance organizations which accepted the new bonds, most of them adjusted to inflation or GDP growth, claims Argentina.
But some financial groups have questioned Argentina’s stats regarding inflation (official rate is a third of private estimates), and the situation has seen the Cristina Fernandez administration even clash with the IMF.
“The NML vulture fund is seated in the Cayman Islands, ‘a fiscal paradise’ which we should remember is a British colony, from where these operators do not respect any legal jurisdictions and have been exposed both at the G20 and the UN”, points out the Foreign ministry release.
They also “systematically release false information on Argentina with the sole purpose of blackmailing Argentina to obtain usury profits”.
However, ATFA to which the NML group belongs accused Argentina of ‘mocking the legal system’.
“International creditors have over 100 favourable court sentences but Argentina refuses to comply with all and every one of them of those court orders” adds the text from the ATFA in Washington.
Argentina claims that this group of lobbyinst is the same that tried to harass President Cristina Fernandez during her recent visit to the US distributing aggressive pamphlets and literature to a visiting president. Allegedly they also mounted a huge inflated rat outside the Argentine embassy in Washington when the celebration of Independence Day.
NML claims and other holdouts have won temporary freezing of funds from Argentina’s Central bank and Nation bank in New York but Buenos Aires appealed to diplomatic immunity. For several years Argentina was forced to avoid the use of the presidential aircraft Tango 01, fearing it could be embargoes and retained in the US and in Germany.