Elliott Wins Asset Freeze Against Argentine Central Bank

Apr 8 2010 | 4:17am ET

Elliott Management has won another round in court in its battle with Argentina over its debt default eight years ago.

A federal judge ruled yesterday that Elliott and another hedge fund, NML Capital, can seize US$105 million in assets owned by Argentina’s central bank. U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, who last year held Argentina in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to another hedge fund, remained skeptical of Argentina’s claims that the central bank is independent of the Argentina government.

The judge said that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s actions prove that she controls the central bank. He also offered harsh words for the South American country, scolding it for enmeshing the court “in years of wasteful litigation with no end in sight.”

Argentina said it would appeal Griesa’s ruling, noting that in the contempt of court case involving hedge fund Aurelia Capital Partners, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his decision. That case involved an asset freeze against an Argentine state pension fund; the pension was ruled to enjoy sovereign immunity.

Elliott and NML are among the roughly 25% of holders of the $100 billion in sovereign debt Argentina defaulted on in 2002 not to accept a deal from the country’s government. Argentina has swapped the rest of the debt for about 30 cents on the dollar.

“We proved that Argentina has over many years interfered with the actions of the Central Bank so that it simply became an arm of the Argentine government,” Elliott’s lawyer, David Rivkin, told the Associated Press.

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