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Argentina fears default after American court ruling

• Heather Stewart and Uki Goñi via The Guardian
 

Argentinian politicians and global debt campaigners have responded with fury to a US court judgment that risks plunging the country back into default.

Elliott Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management, regarded as "vulture funds" by Buenos Aires, won a ruling in a New York court on Wednesday that could force Argentina to hand over $1.3bn (£816m) in repayments and interest to the tiny minority of bondholders who refused to sign up to a hard-fought writedown of its debts after the country defaulted in 2001.

Judge Thomas Griesa upheld his own ruling of last month backing Elliott Associates, and said: "Argentina owes this and owes it now."

In a strongly worded statement, Griesa said that Argentina should make repayments to the so-called holdouts at the same pace that it is repaying the vast majority of bondholders who did agree to a debt-swap. He also warned that US-based bank BNY Mellon, which handles Argentina's debt payments to US-based bondholders, would be acting "in active concert" with the republic, if it failed to comply with the ruling.

If some of the country's repayments were diverted to the vulture funds, however, it could reduce the amount available for Argentina's other lenders, pushing it into a technical default on more than $60bn in outstanding debts. Buenos Aires has repeatedly made clear that it has no intention of paying anything to the plaintiffs in the case.

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