Argentina slams U.S. judge as 'imperialist,' peso halts rout

Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:39pm EDT
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By Jorge A. Otaola and Richard Lough

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina on Friday accused the U.S. judge who called the country's new debt restructuring plan illegal of making "imperialist" comments against the South American nation.

Latin America's No. 3 economy tipped into its second default in 12 years in July after U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa blocked payments to holders of issued under U.S. law that was restructured following its record $100 billion default in 2002.

Griesa ruled that measures proposed by Argentina's president late on Tuesday to make debt payments locally and push bondholders to bring their debt under Argentine law violated past court rulings. But he stopped short of holding the country in contempt.

President Cristina Fernandez's measures, if enacted and executed, would potentially allow Argentina to skirt Griesa's court orders and thus resume interest payments on an estimated $29 billion in restructured bonds.

Argentine Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said Griesa's choice of words was "unfortunate, incorrect and even, I would say, imperialist expressions".

Argentina defaulted after Griesa froze a $539 million interest payment, saying restructured bonds cannot be paid unless U.S. investment funds demanding 100 cents on the dollar, plus interest, are simultaneously paid.

Elliott Management Corp, a lead holdout investor suing Argentina via its NML Capital affiliate, is preparing to subpoena a number of international banks in its efforts to seize what it suspects are embezzled Argentine funds, a source at the hedge fund told Thomson Reuters IFR.

Argentine bonds extended losses but the peso halted a two-day rout, firming 0.2 percent on the black market to 13.880 per dollar. It struck a record low of 14.000 on Thursday.   Continued...

People walk in Buenos Aires' financial district early August 1, 2014. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci