Argentina has asked British and US market regulators to probe whether oil companies that are involved in hydrocarbons exploration off the disputed Falklands/Malvinas Islands have told investors about the risks of their illicit drilling, the Argentine Foreign Ministry reported.
The Argentine government has triggered a series of measures against oil companies conducting exploration or drilling activities in the Falklands/Malvinas Islands as announced a week ago by Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman.
In a Thursday communiqué, the Foreign Ministry revealed that last Monday both the New York Stock Exchange Executive Director and the head of the London Stock Exchange were warned about the “illegal” activities being carried out by five oil companies and their exposure to fines or other administrative actions.
In the letters to markets Argentina points out that Argos Resources Limited, Borders & Southern Petroleum PLC, Desire Petroleum PLC, Falkland Oil and Gas Limited ay Rockhopper Exploration PLC are “illicitly involved in hydrocarbons exploration activities in the Argentine continental platform and thus exposed to administrative, civil and criminal sanctions”.
Addressing the head of the London Stock Exchange, where shares of these companies are traded, Timerman demanded shareholders are informed of risks involved.
We have solicited ... that they be required to make these illicit activities known and quantify the risks involved. In this way, the stock exchange will be able to evaluate if the firms can continue to list their shares or whether they must provide more information to the market.
The companies trade in London but Argentina also advised New York regulators, in case the companies move to list there in the future.
The Argentine government also sent along a list of all the companies linked to the five exploration companies, including internationall banks, auditors, brokers, advisers and lawyers, along with institutional investors.
Some of the biggest banks named include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, Barclays Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.
These banks could be at risk of asset seizure in Argentina if the government successfully sues them in local courts.
Argentina has steadily increased pressure on Britain to hold Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty talks, introducing new controls on shipping, asking for a flights accord to be overhauled and complaining to the United Nations about Britain's militarization of the South Atlantic.
From the Falklands' Director of Mineral Resources, Stephen Luxton said that FIG had no doubts about its legal right to develop their own resources. They were,“not particularly concerned,” byMr Timerman’s threats as they did not see how Argentina could enforce its domestic legislation in a place to which it did not apply.