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Argentine warship seized by hedge fund in debt dispute


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Ghana Court Refuses to Release Argentine Navy Ship Over Debts Issue

The Accra Commercial court on Thursday ruled not to release the Argentine military war ship, detained in Ghana's Tema port on court orders over a credit dispute, until further notice.

The Argentine vessel, ARA Libertad, was restrained on October 2 under a court order secured by creditors NML Capital, suing the Argentine government over its 2002 default, a move Argentina described as a violation of international law.

According to Ghana's state-run Ghana News Agency, the court justice Richard Agyei Frimpong said Argentina had not demonstrated the basis for which the injunction on the ship should be set aside. He said the order he gave earlier on the movement of the ship, which came to Ghana on a goodwill mission as part of a West African tour, was proper.

NML Capital Limited went to the Court in Accra on October 2 to obtain an interim injunction against the Argentine ship currently in Ghana, with about 200 men on board.

NML Capital, a New York-based investment fund engaged in the management of investment on behalf of pension funds, university endowments and other institutions and individuals, was on December 18, 2006, granted a summary judgment by the U.S. District Court for the recovery from Argentina the principal bond of 284,184,632 dollars with respect to 10.25 percent of Global Bonds due on July 21, 2030, plus interest thereon.

Earlier this month, the lawyer for the Argentine government filed an application to set aside the interim order to release the warship, arguing that the vessel, which is classified as a military property, enjoys sovereign immunity.

The commercial court pointedly asked the lawyer if Argentina ever intends to pay its debts, and questioned him keenly about a UK court decision finding that Argentina waived all claims to sovereign immunity.

However, Ace Ankomah, counsel for NML Capital Limited, opposed to the motion, saying Argentina had the means and the ability to pay debts it owed.

The vessel is estimated to be between 10 and 15 million U.S. dollars in value, however, it is only a fraction of the total amount owed by Argentina to NML Capital and other creditors under U.S. and UK law. The Argentine government could cause the ship to be released at any time by posting a bond.





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