Seized Argentine ship remains in Ghana



Tema: Ghanaian officials on Friday refused to release an Argentine naval ship that was seized in the West African nation due to a complaint by a US hedge fund.

Officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority told The Associated Press they will release the ship only after they receive a court order. The tall ship ARA Libertad is being held at Tema port near the capital, Accra.

The complicated case involves players in three nations: Argentina, Ghana and the United States. The ARA Libertad is a three-masted tall ship that stopped at Tema while training hundreds of Argentinian navy cadets.

Asked for comment, the Ghanaian minister of information said he was not aware of the seizure of the ship. The public affairs officers of both the ministry of defence and the Ghana Armed Forces would not comment.

Security personnel at the port refused entry to an AP reporter investigating the case.

The seizure of the flagship of Argentina's navy stems from a complaint from a US hedge fund. Elliott Capital Management's lawyers have searched worldwide for ways of collecting on Argentine bonds bought at fire-sale prices after the South American country's record debt default a decade ago. The USD 15 billion hedge fund is run by billionaire Paul Singer.

Most bondholders eventually agreed to cancel Argentina's bad debts for about 30 cents on the dollar, but Singer is among those holding out for the full promised value of those notes, plus interest. Courts in the United States and Britain have granted judgments worth USD 1.6 billion to the hedge fund, but it and other bondholders are still suing for billions more. Argentina has refused to pay.

The Argentine foreign ministry says the seizure violates international law and that President Cristina Fernandez will not bend to extortion. Diplomats are working with the African government to "clarify the trickery that these unscrupulous financiers have mounted," the ministry said.

PTI