June 20, 2013
Seized Argentine ship remains in Ghana
Ghanaian officials yesterday refused to release an Argentine training ship that was seized in the West African nation due to a complaint by a US hedge fund.
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.
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 15-billion-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 de Kirchner will not bend to extortion. Diplomats are working with the African government to “clarify the trickery that these unscrupulous financiers have mounted,” the ministry said.
A court in Ghana on Tuesday ordered the ship to be held in port until Argentina posts a court bond equal to its value, which could be 10 million dollars or more. Singer would then try to collect that money.
Argentina files petition
The Argentine government filed yesterday a petition with Ghana’s Supreme Court for the release of the Navy ship, according to news agency France Press.
A meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday in Accra’s High Court, Ace Ankomah, an NML Capital lawyer, who filed the lawsuit in Ghana, said.
“They presented a petition to override ours,” said Ankomah, who added that “if they pay tomorrow, the ship can leave.”
Authorities say crew are fine
“The crew is going on with their normal routine,” and the treatment they’ve received from local authorities in Ghana is optimal, a Navy spokesman in Buenos Aires said yesterday, speaking under condition of anonymity because of military rules.
Herald with AP, DyN, Telam