Argentina warns banks off Falklands oil links: report

LONDON Sun Apr 1, 2012 10:34am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Argentine government has threatened British and American banks with legal action over giving advice or even writing research reports about companies involved in the Falkland Islands' nascent oil industry, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

As many as 15 banks have been sent warning letters in Spanish by the Argentine embassy in London, the newspaper said.

The letters are aimed at cutting financial support for the five London-listed exploration companies looking for oil in the region, including Rockhopper Exploration, Borders & Southern and Falkland Oil & Gas.

Argentina has already said it would penalize companies which work with oil drillers exploring offshore the islands in the South Atlantic.

Verbal sparring over the sovereignty of the islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, has heated up in recent months ahead of the 30th anniversary of Britain's expulsion of an Argentine invasion force.

The banks targeted by the embassy include both those that have undertaken advisory and fundraising roles for the explorers and those that have written research notes on the subject, the Sunday Telegraph said.

The unsigned letters said the institutions, which include Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Capital and Goldman Sachs, could face criminal and civil action in the Argentine courts.

The Argentine embassy in London did not respond to calls on Sunday, while the newspaper said none of the banks involved chose to comment.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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