ARA Libertad

ARA Libertad

By Alex Cuadros and Jonathan J. Levin

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Ghana to immediately release Argentine naval ship ARA Libertad, which the African country had detained because of a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd.

Argentina and Ghana must bear their own costs in the dispute, the Hamburg-based court said in a ruling today on its website.

NML Capital, which is run by billionaire investor Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., had won a court order to detain the Argentine vessel in Ghana and it was seized on Oct. 2 amid a dispute over defaulted Argentine securities. NML is separately fighting in a U.S. court for repayment on the defaulted bonds.

Argentina’s Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino said today the country will “keep defending itself from the financial pirates,” according to comments posted on his Twitter account.

Peter Truell, a spokesman for Elliott, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail sent outside of normal business hours seeking comment on the tribunal’s decision and the minister’s remarks.

NML and other investors who didn’t participate in debt swaps Argentina carried out after its 2001 default are seeking to recover the full value of the Argentine securities. About 93 percent of the defaulted bonds were restructured in 2005 and 2010, giving creditors about 30 cents on the dollar.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has vowed to never pay NML and other so-called holdouts that she dubs “vulture funds,” while continuing to service its restructured debt.

A U.S. appeals court delayed a ruling by Judge Thomas Griesa that had ordered Argentina to pay holdouts $1.3 billion by Dec. 15. The court will hear oral arguments for the case on Feb. 27, according to the Nov. 28 ruling.

Copyright 2012 Bloomberg.

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