A Ghanaian court authorized on Monday to have Argentina’s ARA Libertad navy training frigate, impounded over a lawsuit filed by a US based fund, removed from Tema’s commercial port to another local pier in order to liberate space that’s crucial for the in and out of cargo liners.
However and according to diplomatic sources in Buenos Aires, Argentina refuses to move the vessel and in considering appealing the decision.
As the ship has been stranded since October 2, on request of New York based fund NML Capital, Argentina’s legal representatives indicated that moving the ship must be dangerous as almost her entire crew of 280 has left and returned to Argentina only leaving an emergency team of 45 men.
But Ghana’s Judge Adjei Frimpong, who authorized the move, said to be “more than satisfied” with his decision, and remarked that “the ship is not in danger”.
Likewise, Frimpong explained that “the port has become a chaotic scenario since the arrival of the ship whose presence has virtually blocked all possible commercial activities”. He added “we can’t have a military vessel among normal merchant vessels” in Tema which is Ghana’s main commercial port.
NML Capital is suing Argentina on the basis of debts arising from the country's defaulted sovereign bonds. The investment fund bought bonds from the heavily indebted Argentine government in 2000, a year before the country's 100 billion dollars sovereign default.
However the NML Capital did not agree to the 2005 and 2010 restructuring of the defaulted bonds which represented 93% of total debt, and is demanding full face value payment plus interests. In this particular case some 370 million dollars. NML is willing to release the vessel if Argentina pays 20 million dollars, but the government of Cristina Fernandez refuses point blank.
The Libertad was detained after the fund – which has obtained judgments in New York and London awarding it more than 1.6 billion dollars from Argentina – applied to the Ghanaian courts. Previous attempts to seize sovereign assets, including the Argentine presidential jet, have so far been successfully avoided.
According to the Buenos Aires media the Argentine government next attempt for the release of the vessel is appealing to the Hamburg Internacional Court, where 21 magistrates should decided whether the impound violated or not the Law of the Sea and other international conventions that rule maritime trade and traffic.