Repo Man Goes to Ghana to Tow Away Argentinean Navy's Flagship

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ARA Libertad, a symbol of Argentina's navyBorrowers beware. If you miss a payment on your car loan, don't go parking it in Ghana thinking it's safe from repossession. Turns out, the long arm of the repo man reaches all the way to Africa.

That was news to Argentina, which got a shock earlier this month when authorities in the Ghanaian port of Tema seized the flagship of the Argentinean Navy -- the ARA Libertad.

In what amounts to a court-sanctioned repo, the tall ship was seized as collateral pending Argentina's payment of its debts to a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund.

How'd It Come to This?

This story actually began more than a decade ago, when Argentina ran up some $100 billion in debt and then defaulted on the lot of it back in 2001 -- the biggest sovereign default in history. Several years of negotiations with creditors resulted in most lenders agreeing to accept 30 cents on the dollar in a new bond issuance.

But "most" isn't "all," and one hedge fund, NML Capital, still wants the payment on the $1.6 billion worth in bonds it bought at fire-sale prices post-default.

Now, it's taking action to get its money. NML sought and received court orders confirming its rights in both the U.K. and U.S., then applied to Ghana to enforce these judgments. Following international law, Ghanaian authorities dutifully impounded the Libertad when it arrived in Tema on a training mission earlier this month. The ship was crewed by some 300 Argentinean sailors who are now cooling their heels in port while everyone waits to see if Argentina will pay the $20 million NML wants to release the boat.

Top Brass Walking the Plank

So far, Argentina's response to NML has been less than apologetic.

Responding to the seizure, Argentina's foreign ministry denounced NML as a "vulture" fund and an "unscrupulous financier," and calls the repo of its boat a "stunt." Problem is, with its Navy's flagship stuck in the hoosegow, there's little Argentina can do but fume.

Angered over its international embarrassment, President Cristina Kirchner is reportedly roaming the halls of Argentina's defense ministry, spitting fire and looking for heads to roll. The commander of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Carlos Alberto Paz, lost his job earlier this week. On Thursday, the head of Argentine military intelligence was similarly sent packing.

One thing's for sure. You can bet their replacements will be more careful where they park their boats.

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James Wentz

The US Government will default on the $$ sooner or later. They have to, there are upwards of $100 TRILLION in liabilities including Social Security, Federal and military retirements and all the "gimme programs, " etc... Look at Argentina very closely, this is what is in store for the USA, only much worse when the hood rats quit getting handouts!

Metals of choice: Lead going into a crisis, silver to get you thru the crisis, and gold coming out of a crisis!. Prep now!

October 23 2012 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chloe

Forrrgeet about de deet...We wan to take bock de Malvinas frrrrom doze grringo whettos...

October 23 2012 at 12:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chivasprietos

The Libertad is no longer free!

October 23 2012 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
juststeve35

Simple thought for simple people:

Try finding more sources of information and truly educate yourselves on a subject before commenting.

This is about a legal and legitimate debt owed by a country with a GDP last year of about US$460 Billion. The debt holder tried many ways, and many times, to collect the debt only to be ignored... Even legal judgements in International Court were ignored by Argentina, and it was through completely legal proceedings that Ghana took this action.

Ghana, is doing the right and proper thing here folks!

GDP =$450B, debtor asking and has been awarded legal judgements in the amount of $20M.

Argentina?

Pay the darn bill.

October 22 2012 at 10:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
juststeve35

Genius...

Damage your military abilities by firing top officers because you are embarrassed???

Perhaps next time you declare bankruptcy, after destroying your economy with unfunded social programs, you will understand that your ACTIONS have CONSEQUENCES.

If you STIFF YOUR LENDERS, they will TAKE YOUR STUFF.

Get over it and learn how to manage your nation's finances responsibly.

October 22 2012 at 10:30 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to juststeve35's comment
mcpogo

If the USA "stiffs" it's lenders, bondholders and national debt holders what will happen. When you owe 10-20TRILLION dollars or so and some simpleton thinks by printing US dollars 24/7 year round will make the problem go away there are an awful lot of Americans with their heads way too far down the ostrich hole. If the Asian and Arab debt holders decide to "dump" the dollar as a "sovereign" currency the economic tsunami will utterly decimate the American economy and in fact American Civiliztion as you know it! "Get over it and learn how to manage your nation's finances responsibly." is unbeleivable! The 1 percenters, the large corporations and finance houses in the US have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. The goose belongs to Red China, South Korea and the Middle Eastern Oil Sheikdoms, they have defrauded Aemerica of so much national treasure it can NEVER be repaid! They should all be arrested en masse, forfeiting all assets to the US Government of the 99%, charged with treason against the state, convicted and executed! Then maybe the next crop of flim-flam artists coming up the Goldman-Sachs pipeline of treachery will think a little more before they try their mega ponzi schemes like their predecessors!

October 23 2012 at 1:22 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
furtura1

pay your debts and this will not happen

October 22 2012 at 10:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
paddleman1928

This is probably US in 4 or 5 years

October 22 2012 at 9:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ocfamlaw

Maybe the Argentines should stop being such deadbeats and start paying their bills instead of idly griping over the Falklands.

October 22 2012 at 7:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ocfamlaw's comment
jburke6000

It's a hedge fund that bought the debt note AFTER the Argentine default. They are just a collection agency and they have committed a terrorist act on a sovreign nation.
Argentina should let the Ghanese know that the war will start on their doorstep, unless the ship is released. The Argentinians should send special forces to take out the hedge fund owners immediately to prevent them from attacking other nations.
You can't negotiate with international terrorists. Either America is with the Argentinians fighting terrorists, or we are as bad as the terrorists. There is no middle ground.

October 22 2012 at 8:13 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jburke6000's comment
juststeve35

Hey genius?

They own the debt, it is their legitimate right to collect...

Typical Lefty, you want the Argentine Military to murder folks for doing nothing more than collecting a legitimate debt.

Legitimate, as Argentina BORROWED THE MONEY and then DID NOT PAY IT BACK.

You do not get to just walk away from commitments made, even if you suddenly find them to be inconvenient.

October 22 2012 at 10:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
mcpogo

Well put. So many Americans are so totally "out to lunch" on just how enormous the same deadbeat financial debt bomb is that is hanging around every American's neck!

October 23 2012 at 1:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
madblondrn

God, what if the Chinese sent the Repo man to come and seize the White House and Chase Bank. Good luck hope you guys have better luck with it than we did. LMFAO

October 22 2012 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to madblondrn's comment
juststeve35

Veddy Wise Grasshoppah...

This indeed is a legitimate action by the holder of the debt and someday we may see the Statue of Liberty dismantled and put in an amusement park in Guangdong Province...

Repossessed for a fraction of the debt incurred by the last two incompetent jackwagons we elected.

October 22 2012 at 10:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mcpogo

At least the US has some collateral to negotiate refinancing or reducing some of their monstrous debt to foreign powers. Red China could likely be "bought off" for a while if we paid off some of our debt with a dozen or so nuclear aircraft carrier battle groups. They would likely bite!

October 23 2012 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rfb112

Sounds like an act of war by Ghana against Argentina. If a foreign country tried to seize a US Naval Vessel I'd expect there would be an immediate military response.

October 22 2012 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rfb112's comment
garryangel

You must be too young to recall North Korea capture of the USS Pueblo. Other than sending fighters to over fly the NK Navy ships involved, we did nothing.

October 22 2012 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply