US judge backs mediator in Argentina debt dispute
NEW YORK, USA – A US judge rejected Argentina's bid Monday, August 4, to dismiss a mediator in the country's $1.3 billion debt battle with hedge funds that plunged the country into its second default since 2001.
New York judge Thomas Griesa ratified Daniel Pollack as "special master" over the negotiations that collapsed last week.
In a five-page ruling, Griesa wrote that the confirmation was needed "because of a certain discussion which occurred at a hearing held by the court on Friday (August 1)."
Argentina's government had announced earlier that it would formally ask the judge to dismiss Pollack, accusing the attorney of failing to be impartial in the case.
Argentina's cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said Pollack "extorted" the government "through unilateral proposals made by the vulture funds."
Capitanich also said Buenos Aires would ask the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the markets watchdog, to probe the hedge funds, accusing them of using "privileged information" to manipulate bond markets and make huge profits.
Argentina went into default last Wednesday, July 30, after it failed to resolve the dispute with the funds, which refuse to take a write-down that has been accepted by most of the country's other creditors.
Griesa prevented Argentina to make a $539 million interest payment to the creditors who had accepted the debt restructuring deal unless it also repays the hedge funds in full.
Most creditors have accepted a 70% cut in their bond holdings as part of a deal reached after Argentina defaulted on $100 billion in debt in 2001.
But on Monday Griesa authorized US banking giant JPMorgan Chase to make a one-time payment on interest for restructured Argentine bonds.
The decision does not remove the judge's freeze on the $539 million that Argentina deposited in the Bank of New York to make the interest payment.
Griesa gave similar exceptions to US firm Citibank, Luxembourg-based Clearstream and Belgium-based Euroclear. – Rappler.com