Friday, December 28, 2012

The vultures get stuffed (again)

No matter the slapstick elements of this story, it is actually very important.  There is a ton of un-payable, illegitimate, garbage debt out there that simply must be restructured.  If the vulture funds are able to sabotage restructuring  agreements, then there really is no hope for emerging from the current economic mess that overwhelms the global economy.

While there are seemingly endless opportunities for vulture-funded corruption, the legal system has long ago come to the conclusion that a civil society simply must have ways to rewrite debt agreements.  So mega-vulture Paul Singer has not only lost a bunch legal battles, a court in Belgium recently has ordered that he pays everyone's legal fees.  I am not sure this will slow Singer down because he obviously enjoys jerking around sovereign nations and has the money to fund his perverse little hobby.

Seized Argentine naval ship leaves Ghana

The ARA Libertad, an Argentine naval ship, was allowed to leave Ghana on Wednesday after it was detained in the West African country on October 2 at the request of a hedge fund looking to collect $300 million on defaulted government bonds.

By News Wires 19/12/2012

An Argentine naval vessel detained in Ghana at the request of a hedge fund seeking payment on defaulted government bonds left the West African country on Wednesday, a port official said.

The ARA Libertad, a tall sailing ship used for training, was detained on a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd, which claims it is owed $300 million resulting Argentina’s debt default in 2002.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled on Saturday that Ghana should release the ship after Argentina argued that a U.N. Convention on the law gives warships immunity from civil claims when they dock at foreign ports.

The Argentine ship was detained in the port of Tema, Ghana on Oct. 2.

“The boat has just set sail after supplies (arrived),” Jacob Kwabla Adokor, the director of the Tema port, told Reuters. “Everything went smoothly. The ropes came off 20 minutes ago.”

A Reuters witness watched from a distance as the ship glided away from its berth in the late afternoon, its masts and colours visible above the roofs of surrounding buildings.

A plane arrived in Ghana from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, earlier in the day carrying 98 sailors to replace the 326 crew members who evacuated the detained ship in October, leaving behind only a skeleton crew for essential maintenance.

The Libertad is due to arrive in the Argentine seaside resort of Mar del Plata on Jan. 9, at the height of the southern hemisphere summer vacation season.

“There will be a lot of tourists and they’ll be able to visit the ship, which has become a symbol of sovereignty and national dignity,” Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez said in a speech late on Tuesday.

“Holdout” creditors including NML have won several billion dollars in damages in U.S. courts over Argentina’s $100 billion debt default. But they have struggled to collect since most Argentine assets abroad are protected by sovereign immunity laws.

These creditors recently won a U.S. court ruling ordering Argentina to pay $1.3 billion to NML and other sovereign bondholders who shunned debt restructuring deals in 2005 and 2010. The court decision was halted pending appeal.

The Libertad was visiting Ghana as part of a west African tour and was due to sail on to Angola when it was detained.

Argentina’s Defence Ministry initially filed a motion contesting the detention claiming sovereign immunity for the military vessel, but a court in Ghana’s capital of Accra upheld the seizure as legal.

Argentina’s government has consistently rejected claims for debt repayment by NML and other hedge funds, calling them “vulture funds.” more

Hedge Fund Billionaire Paul Singer Just Tried To Take More Of Argentina's Stuff

Linette Lopez | Dec. 18, 2012

Now that the UN Tribunal of the Law of the Seas has ruled that Argentina will get their naval vessel out of Ghanaian port, hedge fund manager Paul Singer has no assets to hold over the country's head for collateral.

Not to say that he isn't trying to get some. A Belgian Court just ruled that the billionaire cannot seize Argentina's diplomatic accounts in the country, MercoPress reports.

Singer has been battling Argentina for years. The country owes him $1.3 billion in 2001 sovereign debt that it has the money to pay, but refuses. Argentina believes that, because a subsidiary of Singer's Elliott Management and other hedge funds did not restructure their debt and take haircuts on the bonds in 2005 and 2010, they are "vulture" funds.

And Argentina does not pay vulture funds.

That is why Singer is trying to get his hands on something, anything that will put pressure on Argentina's President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The ARA Libertad, Argentina's naval vessel, was a great option until (first) it became a rallying cry in Argentina and (second) a UN Tribunal ordered that it be sent back to the country saying (via Credit Slips) that because the ARA is a warship, it is entitled to immunity under international law.

So Singer went for Argentina's diplomatic bank accounts in Belgium, but Belgium wasn't having it at all. The Court cited the 1961 Vienna Convention, which states “the premises of the (diplomatic) mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution”.

This ruling came down from Belgium's highest Court, and also included a measure that would stop Singer from trying any other kind of action to take assets belonging to Argentina's diplomatic mission.

Plus, Singer has to pay everyone's legal fees. more

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