Ghana Court Denies Release of Seized Argentine Naval Training Vessel

A Ghana court, today, deemed the seizure of an Argentine naval vessel through a court order as legal. The ship’s detention was an effort by creditors who are pursuing Argentina over the country’s 2002 debt default. The warship will not be released.

Ten years ago, Argentina declared an independent default and now faces a number of lawsuits in U.S. courts by bondholders seeking state asset freezes to recover the value of defaulted bonds, according to Reuters Africa.

The Libertad, a navy frigate with 200 crewmembers, was detained in Ghana's eastern port of Tema over a week ago under a court order sought by NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of the investment firm Elliott Management.

800px ARA Libertad 1998

Argentinian defense officials filed a motion disputing the detention claiming autonomous immunity. The country felt that due to its military purpose, the vessel could not be targeted by creditors. However, in its ruling, the commercial court in Ghana stated that Argentina had lost such immunities when it issued the bonds.

NML Capital is asking for a bond deposit worth at least $20 million before releasing the vessel. Argentina allegedly owes them over $300 million. Legal representatives for the firm said that they are not even asking for a cash payment, or the full amount. The Argentinian government refers to bondholders as vulture funds, as they typically target foreign bank accounts held by state-run companies or government agencies.

The ship, primarily used as a training vessel, was running low on fuel this week and appealed to the court to allow refueling to generate power for the crew who remain aboard.