Argentina Takes on Vulture Funds in “Debt Trial of the Century”
April 23rd, 2013
For years, “vulture funds” have preyed on struggling nations by purchasing their debt for a pittance. Could an upcoming U.S. court decision put an end to the extortion of poor countries?
Last October, soldiers from the West African nation of Ghana boarded an Argentine naval ship called the Libertad. They overtook the crew and brought the ship to port in the town of Tema. This was not an act of piracy, at least not in the sense we normally understand it. The detaining of the Libertad took place after hedge fund NML Capital convinced a Ghanaian court that the ship, which was sailing in Ghanaian jurisdiction, should be held ransom for a debt the hedge funds claimed Argentina owed them.
The saga began in 2001, when Argentina was thrown into economic crisis and defaulted on its loans. Hedge funds swooped in and bought Argentine debt for almost nothing and circled until the country was in recovery to collect the debt in full.