Friday, September 26, 2014

Argentina/US: Update--Judge Griesa Fines Argentina $50,000 a Day for Disobeying Court

According to The Latin American Tribune, a US District Court judge has ordered a hearing for Monday (September 29) on a potential order finding Argentina in contempt of court and fining Argentina $50,000 a day for disobeying the court's orders.

NML Capital, Aurelius Capital Management LP and other holders of defaulted Argentine bonds who are owed $1.8 billion dollars have prepared a draft order for US District Judge Thomas Griesa, giving Argentina until Monday to potentially avoid the sanctions in a "Motion to Show Cause."

Argentina published full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal announcing plans to drop Bank of New York Mellon Corp. as trustee for its restructured debt and the new law was promulgated in its Official Bulletin Wednesday (see below) while the holdouts also took out full-page ads calling on Argentina to follow the court's orders and pay its debts. 

“Argentina has blatantly and repeatedly violated the court’s orders, making it abundantly clear that it has no respect for those orders, the court or the US judicial system,” the holders of the defaulted bonds said in a filing today in Manhattan federal court (see below).

Judge Griesa set a hearing on the matter for September 29, after clerks revealed that he was already occupied with another Argentina matter (payments to be made by Citibank in Argentina) on Friday afternoon when the hearing was originally scheduled.

Judge Griesa previously threatened Argentina with sanctions for violating orders. In August, NML asked Griesa to find the nation in contempt of court after government officials announced a plan to swap Argentina’s restructured debt for bonds paid locally, to avoid the jurisdiction of US courts. Griesa denied that request, saying a contempt ruling wouldn’t help the parties negotiate a resolution to their stalemate.

The US Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that Argentina can’t make payments on its restructured debt unless it also pays the NML-led group for its bonds and the US Supreme Court found no fault in the decision and declined to hear Argentina's objections.

Argentina defaulted on its performing debt July 30 after not paying the holdout creditors, and Bank of New York Mellon, complying with Griesa’s orders, was unable to pass to bondholders a $539 million interest payment.

Meanwhile, the Argentine government opened today the Nación Fideicomiso account at the Central Bank of Argentina, saying it was evidence of the country’s "good faith and its willingness and ability to pay in equitable conditions."

The objective was to allow for the payment of the interest on the bonds issued in the 2005 and 2010 debt swaps by removing the Bank of New York Mellon as payment agent.





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