Litigious investors ask US Supreme Court to deny Argentina a 'do-over' on $1.4B debt ruling

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina’s opponents have filed their last arguments with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging justices to deny the South American government’s appeal of a $1.4 billion debt ruling because President Cristina Fernandez has repeatedly vowed not to honour any decision that goes against her.

Argentina wants the court to overturn a ruling it says would provoke a catastrophic default by forcing it to pay $1.3 billion plus interest in cash to the investors it calls “vulture funds.” These investors, led by billionaire Paul Singer’s NML Capital Ltd., snapped up Argentina’s defaulted debt as its economy crashed a decade ago and have litigated ever since, seeking payment in full plus interest even after 92 per cent of other bondholders agreed to provide generous debt relief in exchange for regular payments on new bonds.

“Argentina already has made clear that it will not obey any adverse decision on the questions it presents,” reads NML’s brief, filed just before Wednesday night’s deadline.

“Argentina ultimately is not interested in any court’s views concerning those questions. By Argentina’s lights, it has the final word, and it will recognize a judicial ruling only if it accords with Argentina’s conclusions,” NML said.

The “Aurelius Respondents,” another group of hedge funds and holding companies based in the Cayman Islands and the U.S. state of Delaware to avoid taxes and scrutiny, urged the justices to deny Argentina’s “do-over” request, saying “a chorus of disinterested parties has recognized that Argentina is without peer in its mistreatment of private-sector creditors.”

Robert Raben, who lobbies for the holdouts as executive director of the American Task Force Argentina, said Thursday that Argentina has failed to honour 114 adverse court rulings since its 2002 default, and also has refused to pay more than 30 settlements ordered by World Bank arbitrators.

President George W. Bush’s attorney general, Michael Mukasey, also filed a brief, saying the justices shouldn’t waste their precious time on Argentina, which “has put itself in the position of a fugitive from justice who eludes law enforcement authorities while seeking to press an appeal.”

Argentine Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich dismissed these arguments, saying the funds have spent millions of dollars on “aggressive and bad-faith tactics.”

Argentina has one more chance to respond before the justices meet privately in June to decide how to respond. The court will likely announce days later whether it will hear the appeal, turn it down, ask for input from the Obama Administration or send the case back to the New York appeals court for more information.