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U.S. appeals court rules for Argentine central bank

Argentina’s central bank on Monday won the reversal of a U.S. court ruling that had allowed bondholders to try to hold it responsible for the country’s obligations on debt that has been in default since 2002.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned a 2013 ruling denying a bid by Banco Central de la República Argentina (BCRA) to dismiss claims by creditors holding $2.4 billion in judgments against the South American country.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa had previously held that the central bank had waived its sovereign immunity, and that as a result the creditors could move forward with a lawsuit seeking to have it declared Argentina’s “alter ego.”
The ruling had been sought by bondholders including NML Capital Ltd, which is a unit of Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp, and EM Ltd, controlled by investor Kenneth Dart, who sought to go after funds BCRA held in foreign jurisdictions.
But a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit reversed, saying BCRA could invoke its own sovereign immunity to avoid liability and directed Griesa to dismiss the case.
Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes wrote that the court’s ruling is not intended to allow Argentina to “continue shirking the debts it has the ability to pay, although we suspect that this will be a predictable and unfortunate outcome of our decision.”
But Cabranes said the central bank was entitled to invoke its own sovereign immunity as a defense.
Carmine Boccuzzi, a lawyer for Argentina, said he was “gratified” by the ruling, which he said was the third to reject the bondholders’ efforts to go after the central bank.
A representative for NML Capital declined to comment. Representatives for BCRA and EM Ltd did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The ruling stemmed from long-running litigation by creditors seeking full repayment on bonds after Argentina’s $100 billion default in 2002.
Those creditors spurned Argentina’s 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings, which resulted in 92 percent of its defaulted debt being swapped and investors being paid less than 30 cents on the dollar.
The country defaulted again in July 2014 after refusing to honor orders to pay $1.33 billion plus interest to Elliott Management’s NML Capital Ltd and other hedge funds suing over the bonds.
Griesa ordered Argentina in June to pay $5.4 billion to another 500-plus holders of defaulted debt before it could pay the majority of its creditors.

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