* Court dismisses Argentine's immunity claims
* Creditors seeking bond guarantee worth $20 million to
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA, Oct 11 A court in Ghana upheld as legal
on Thursday the detention of an Argentine naval vessel seized
under a court order by creditors pursuing the South American
nation over its 2002 debt default.
Argentina declared a sovereign default a decade ago and now
faces a raft of lawsuits in U.S. courts by bondholders seeking
state asset freezes to recover the value of defaulted bonds.
The Libertad, a navy frigate with 200 crew, was detained in
Ghana's eastern port of Tema on Oct. 2 under a court order
sought by NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of the investment firm
Argentina's defence ministry filed a motion contesting the
detention claiming sovereign immunity. It said that, due to its
military nature, the vessel could not be targeted by creditors.
In its ruling the commercial court in Ghana's capital Accra
said Argentina had forfeited such immunities when it issued the
"The defence applicant had made it so clear in the
transaction agreement that it was waving such immunity and it is
my view that the action being sought by the plaintiff is binding
in accordance with the laws," the judge said in a statement.
Ace Ankomah, a lawyer for NML Capital, told Reuters his
clients were seeking a bond deposit worth at least $20 million
before releasing the vessel. Argentina owed his clients "well
over $300 million", he said.
"We are not insisting on cash payment, neither are we asking
for the full amount. Our position is that we'd release the
vessel if they are able to get a bank to issue the bond to us,"
Bondholders like NML Capital, which the left-leaning
government of President Cristina Fernandez calls vulture funds,
normally target foreign bank accounts held by state-run
companies or government agencies.
Defence lawyers said the ship, which is used as a training
vessel, was running low on fuel and appealed to the court to
allow refuelling to provide power for the crew, all of whom
The Libertad was visiting Ghana as part of a west African
tour. It is due to sail to Angola next.