Ghana considers court order to release ship

AP News
Posted: Dec 16, 2012 4:31 PM

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana's government said Sunday it was "carefully considering" a U.N. tribunal's order for the immediate release of an Argentine navy training ship seized two months ago at the request of an American hedge fund.

In a statement signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Chris Kpodo, the government said I remained "firmly committed to our international obligations."

"The Government of Ghana will carefully consider the Tribunal's Order with a view to ensuring that it is given effect, having regard to the requirements of the Constitution and the country's international obligations," the statement said.

The ARA Libertad training ship was impounded Oct. 2 in the port of Tema at the behest of private creditors as collateral for unpaid bonds dating from Argentina's economic crisis a decade ago.

Argentina appealed to the U.N. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the ship's release, arguing that as a warship the Libertad is immune from being seized.

In an expedited ruling by a U.N. court in Germany, the court ordered that Ghana "forthwith and unconditionally release the frigate ARA Libertad" and ensure the ship and its crew can leave Ghanaian waters. It also ordered that the vessel be resupplied as needed.

Ghana's government said it has taken "careful note of the Tribunal's order." In the statement published Sunday, it said the arrest of the Argentine vessel arises from a dispute between Argentina and a private foreign company, adding that the government of Ghana was not a party to that dispute.

Ghana courts ordered the ship held on a claim by Cayman Islands-based NML Capital Ltd. Its owner, American billionaire Paul Singer, leads a group demanding payment in full, plus interest — about $350 million — for dollar-based Argentine bonds bought at fire sale prices after Argentina's 2001-2002 economic collapse forced a sharp devaluation of its currency.

The vast majority of bondholders accepted about 30 cents on the dollar years ago, and that is roughly what the holdouts led by Singer initially paid for the bonds.