July 24, 2014
US Supreme Court: Argentina's non-US assets should be off-limits to creditors
US Supreme Court justices today indicated that creditors should be able to seek limited information about Argentina's non-US assets in a case stemming from long-running litigation over Argentina's obligations to bond investors.
During the one-hour oral argument concerning hedge fund NML Capital Ltd's efforts to seek payment of court judgments it says are worth around $1.7 billion, several justices suggested that military and diplomatic assets should be off-limits, which would narrow the scope of the ruling.
A separate and more high-profile case - in which Argentina is challenging a court judgment ordering it to pay $1.33 billion to NML and other so-called holdout bond investors or face a potential default if it refuses to do so - is also pending before the US high court.
Today, the court heard Argentina's appeal of a lower court ruling that said a hedge fund could subpoena banks for information about the South American country's non-US assets.
The justices gave no indication of where they stand on the bigger case during today's argument.
The narrow legal question was whether NML, a unit of billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp, could enforce subpoenas against Bank of America and Banco de la Nacion Argentina.
While the majority of justices seemed sympathetic to the idea of NML being able to seek information, several signaled a willingness to limit it to commercial assets.
Chief Justice John Roberts described what NML was seeking as "pretty extraordinary." Justice Anthony Kennedy, the nine-justice court's regular swing vote, also seemed eager to set limits. A ruling is due by the end of June.