News / Economy

Argentina Slams Judge in US Debt Default Case

A poster depicts U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa, overseeing a case in which U.S. hedge funds are suing Argentina, as a vulture in Buenos Aires, Aug. 12, 2014.
A poster depicts U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa, overseeing a case in which U.S. hedge funds are suing Argentina, as a vulture in Buenos Aires, Aug. 12, 2014.
Reuters

Argentina came out swinging on Wednesday against the U.S. judge overseeing its debt default case, in defiance of a threatened contempt order, and disappointed market hopes it might soon restart talks with the hedge funds suing the country.

A group of holdout investors have sued the South American country for full repayment on bonds that went into default in 2002. The funds rejected debt restructurings in 2005 and 2010, holding out for better terms.

U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa, overseeing Argentina's long-running battle with the funds, said in New York on Friday that he would issue a contempt order unless the government stopped claiming it had met its obligations and was not in default.

Far from backing off of those assertions, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said that Griesa had been paralyzed by his own lack of understanding of the case and that no new talks had been scheduled with the hedge funds.

"The proper conditions do not exist to negotiate," Capitanich said.

Money’s release requested

Holders of restructured bonds have asked Griesa to release money that Argentina had deposited in June, intended as a coupon payment.

Capitanich criticized the judge for not acting on those requests.

"His lack of decision clearly comes from not understanding the process, not understanding Argentina's status as a sovereign country, not understanding that his actions violate sovereign immunity," Capitanich said. That "transcends judicial concerns and enters the realm of international relations, which are managed by the executive branch of the U.S. government."

In 2012, Griesa ruled that Argentina could not repay holders of restructured debt without simultaneously paying hedge funds their court award of $1.33 billion plus interest.

Conflict over deposit

Argentina says it met its obligation to the holders of restructured bonds when it deposited $539 million into the account of intermediary Bank of New York Mellon in June. Griesa called the deposit illegal and ordered the money frozen.

As a result, Argentina effectively missed the coupon payment after a grace period ended July 30, pushing it into default on its restructured debt.

With no negotiations scheduled, the case was in limbo while international banks struggled to reach a deal to buy some of the Argentine debt held by hedge funds led by Elliott Management Corp. and Aurelius Capital Ltd.

"The judge cannot issue an order of contempt because he cannot enforce it against a sovereign country," Capitanich said. "He cannot embargo the funds because they do not belong to Argentina, but to the [restructured] bondholders. The judge cannot make any decision because he knows he would be effectively violating contracts," he added.

"The only thing he is doing, at the express instruction of the vultures, is to block the payment process after Argentina met its obligations," Capitanich said.

Argentina has long accused the judge of overstepping his bounds and being partial toward the funds, which bought Argentine bonds at steep discounts. President Cristina Fernandez characterizes them as “vultures” out to wreck her country's finances in their pursuit of huge profits.

Acceleration could complicate case

The case could get a lot messier should holders of Argentina's newly defaulted debt decide to declare principal and interest immediately due. The move, known as acceleration, could complicate efforts to put the country's debt woes to rest.

An acceleration on the restructured bonds would also deal a blow to the hedge funds in the case, who suddenly could have to share their claim with a much larger pool of investors.

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) Determinations Committee had a conference call scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the next step in settling the prices on what investors will receive for credit default swap contracts on Argentine debt, a side issue to the main dispute.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8016
JPY
USD
117.76
GBP
USD
0.6340
CAD
USD
1.1268
INR
USD
61.850

Rates may not be current.