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Argentina loses court battle in Ghana against US hedge fund

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A sailor from the Argentinean frigate Libertad seized in a port in Ghana in connection with a debt dispute, runs pas the frigate at Tema Port near Accra. Argentina prepared, October 21, 2012

Argentina has lost its international court battle against a US hedge fund over an impounded navy ship in Accra after a judge blocked an attempt to challenge the authority of Ghanaian courts.

Accra’s Commercial Court denied requests from Buenos Aires’ lawyers on Wednesday who were seeking to rule out Ghana’s jurisdiction in their dispute with global equity investment company NML Capital, AFP reported.

On October 2, NML Capital requested Ghanaian courts to detain the warship, the Libertad, and demanded USD 20 million for its release as a partial claim to Argentina’s USD 370 million of unpaid debt.

The case fell apart after lawyers representing Buenos Aires failed to get a procedural ruling for declaration as a “conditional” defendant in the case filed by NML.

“It will be in bad faith if this court grants this application,” Judge Richard Adjei Frimpong of the Commercial Court said. Argentina had initially declared themselves as “unconditional” defendants and Frimpong denied claims to reverse the statement.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman on November 14 took the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Germany, to intervene in the dispute.

Argentina claims Ghana has “”violated the norms of international law that confer immunity on ships of war.”

The Hamburg based tribunal has summoned the Argentine and Ghanaian governments to settle the dispute on November 29-30.

Argentina has managed a large proportion of its debt after an economic crisis and a hefty default a decade ago, but bonds in the hands of speculative funds like NML are still unsettled business.


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