Argentina Attacks Elliott Oil Co. Subpoenas

Aug 30 2012 | 11:18am ET

The Argentine government is blasting Elliott Associates for a series of subpoenas it calls an “ongoing campaign of harassment.”

The two sides have been fighting for years over Argentina’s 2001 default, with Elliott refusing to participate in the country’s restructurings and demanding that it be paid in full on bonds it purchased on the secondary market. Argentina has fought back with claims of sovereign immunity; following a defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month, Elliott has taken its fight back to the lower courts. And it is in the U.S. District Court in Dallas that Argentina is taking issue with subpoenas sent to two Houston-based oil companies, subpoenas that the country says are part of a “fishing expedition” and a “demanding, extensive, burdensome discovery.”

Argentina's filing comes just days after it the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in Elliott's favor in another discovery matter, involving banks.

"Because the district court ordered only discovery, not the attachment of sovereign property, and because that discovery is directed at third-party banks, Argentina's sovereign immunity is not affected," the Appeals court ruled.

But Argentina, in the Dallas filing, argues that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act “clearly applies here and does not permit the type of overbroad discovery requested” by NML Capital, the Elliott affiliate. “Indeed, even apart from FSIA, NML’s subpoenas are improper under Federal Rule 26’s standard requirements that discovery must not impose an undue burden and must be limited to matters that are relevant.”

The “vulture fund,” Argentina’s lawyers wrote, “has aggressively pursued attachment and execution efforts against the republic (often involving novel—and incorrect—legal theories), the vast majority of which have been rejected by the courts of the United States due to the immunities afforded sovereigns and their property under the FSIA.”


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