Hedge Fund 1 : Argentinian Navy 0

An Argentine naval vessel crewed by more than 200 sailors has been seized in Ghana as part of an attempt by the US hedge fund Elliott Capital Management to collect on bonds on which Buenos Aires defaulted in 2001.

A Ghanaian court ordered an injunction and interim preservation order against the ARA Libertad, a 100-metre long tall ship, following an application by Elliott subsidiary NML Capital on Tuesday.

The hedge fund, run by the US billionaire Paul Singer, has been closely monitoring the course of the Libertad, according to sources familiar with the firm.

Elliott had been waiting for the ship to stop in a port where it would have a chance to enforce legal judgments previously awarded by UK and US courts. The hedge fund declined to comment.

Argentina slammed the interception of the Libertad as a “trick which these unscrupulous financiers” had pulled, adding that it “violates the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity”.

In a statement from the foreign ministry, the government said: “Vulture funds have crossed a new limit in their attacks on the Argentine republic” and criticised NML as a fund domiciled in a tax haven seeking “usurious gains” by holding out for full payment on bonds on which Argentina defaulted in 2001.

“It is President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s decision not to give way to the extortive international and local events which vulture funds have been conducting and [the government] will continue to denounce them in different forums such as the G20, the UN . . . and other multilateral organisations,” the Argentine foreign ministry statement said.

Around 93 per cent of Argentina’s $100bn in defaulted bonds were formally restructured in 2005 and 2010, with holders receiving 30 cents on the dollar. Elliott is one of several “holdout” creditors which has sued Argentina for full recovery of assets.

US and UK courts have awarded $1.6bn in claims in NML’s favour, but Argentina has taken a tough line on lingering holdouts, saying there will be no further offers.

If a US court ruling from February 23 is upheld on appeal, Argentina must pay interest to Elliott before making any payment to holders of bonds issued in the 2005 and 2010 swaps. An appeals ruling has not yet been issued.

The Libertad, which Elliott expects to be awarded ownership of, has been estimated in value at between $10m and $15m.

The vessel, a tall ship used by the Argentine Navy to train sailors and a former holder of the world speed record for a transatlantic crossing by sail, was on a graduation tour. It is free to leave the Ghanaian port of Tema if Buenos Aires posts a bond with the court, which Elliott would then also seek to recover.
Don't know why but was reminded of this.

When dragons belch and hippos flee
My thoughts, Ankh-Morpork, are of thee
Let others boast of martial dash
For we have boldly fought with cash
We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes.
We own all your generals - touch us and you'll lose.
Morporkia! Morporkia!
Morporkia owns the day!
We can rule you wholesale
Touch us and you'll pay.

"If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally that's my pike you're pointing at me. I paid for that shield you're holding. And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little debtor."
Presumably they'll send an Aerolineas Argentinas 747 to come and pick up the crew.

With hilarious consequences...

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