12 October 2012

Ghana: Court Throws Out Argentina ...as Its Naval Ship Remains At Tema Port

The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court yesterday dismissed an application filed by the Republic of Argentina, requesting for its naval ship, ARA Libertad, which had been impounded in the Ghanaian seas at the Tema Port, for debts owed to NML Capital Limited, a commercial creditor.

The court had previously retrained the movement of the naval ship, said to be on a training tour of Africa on the request of NML Capital Limited for debts in bonds valued at over $200Million.

According to the court, presided over by Justice Richard Adjei Frimpong, the Republic of Argentina had not demonstrated enough reason why the ship should be released to them.

The court, in its ruling also noted that the Republic of Argentina had waived its immunity following an agreement reached in a U.S court judgment that their properties could be seized anywhere in the world as a result of its debts.

It was further the view of the court that the Republic of Argentina failed to provide a court security when it demanded the defendants to do so, adding that the ship would therefore stay in Ghana until the final determination of the case.

The decision of the court came from the heels of the Republic of Argentina, requesting the court to set aside an interlocutory injunction placed on its naval ship, however, its commercial creditor, NML Capital Limited, vehemently opposed the application.

According to NML Capital Limited the request made by the Republic of Argentina has no legal basis and should therefore be ignored and dismissed.

The 103-meter-long vessel is in the country to offer some navy training after it left Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires on June 2 with a reported total crew of 220, including 69 members of the Argentine Navy and 110 students.

NML Capital Limited was on December 18, 2006 granted a summary judgment by the US District Court for the recovery from Argentina, the principal amount of bonds valued at $284,184,632.30 with respect to 10. 25 per cent Global Bonds due July 21, 2030, plus interest thereon.

Consequently, on December 5, 2011, the UK High Court (QB) ordered the payment of the principal bond amount with interest by consent.

Arguing his points towards maintaining the restrictive orders on the Argentine vessel, the counsel for NML Capital Limited, Mr. Ace Annan Ankomah had noted that the Republic of Argentina entered into a Fiscal Agency Agreement (FAA) on October 19, 1994 with the Bankers Trust Company, a New York banking corporation, who issued securities and bonds for purchase by the country.

Counsel further noted that in the agreement entered into, the Republic of Argentina waived any immunity it enjoys in terms of pre-judgment attachment and execution attachment of any of its assets and properties.

Plaintiff further rejected arguments of the defendants that they enjoy immunity since that had been waived by the agreement entered into with it and denied that the vessel ARA Libertad is entitled to the status of a diplomatic mission under Ghana law or international law.

It is also the view of the plaintiff that the defendant country has the capacity to pay off its debt and therefore, the vessel ARA Libertad would be released if they paid their debts own to them.

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