A Ghana court judge rejected on Thursday the plea put forward by Argentina to release the ARA Libertad training ship, which has been detained in a port close to Accra with its crew since October 2nd due to a complaint by a US hedge fund.
“There are no sufficient grounds for the plaintiff (Argentina) to disallow a court sentence. The motion has been rejected,” stated Judge Richard Adjei Frimpong, of the Accra Commercial Tribunal.
On Tuesday the government had asked the Commercial Court to free the ship that is detained with more than 200 crew members in the West African country.
Officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority said they will release the ship only after they receive a court order. The tall ship ARA Libertad is being held at Tema port near the capital, Accra.
Solicitors for the hedge fund said they are willing to accept 20 million dollars for the release of the vessel. ARA Libertad is valued at 10 million dollars.
The complicated case involves players in three nations: Argentina, Ghana and the United States. The ARA Libertad is a three-masted tall ship that stopped at Tema while training hundreds of Argentine navy cadets.
The seizure of the flagship of Argentina’s Navy stems from a complaint from a US hedge fund. Elliott Capital Management’s lawyers have searched worldwide for ways of collecting on Argentine bonds bought at fire-sale prices following Argentina’s record debt default a decade ago. The 15bn dollar hedge fund is run by billionaire Paul Singer.
Most bondholders eventually agreed to cancel Argentina’s bad debts for about 30 cents on the dollar, but Singer is among those holding out for the full promised value of those notes, plus interest. Courts in the United States and Britain have granted judgments worth 1.6 billion dollars to the hedge fund, but it and other bondholders are still suing for billions more. Argentina has refused to pay.
The Argentine foreign ministry says the seizure violates international law and that President Cristina Fernández will not bend to extortion. Argentine diplomats are working with the African government to “clarify the trickery that these unscrupulous financiers from vulture funds have mounted” the Argentine ministry said in a release.
ARA Libertad was visiting Ghana as part of a West African tour and it is due to head to Angola. She is carrying a promotion of Argentine naval cadets plus others invited from other countries in South America and Africa.