Last October, billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer tracked the course of a Argentine navy ship, Libertad, as it crossed the globe. When it docked in Ghana, his firm, NML Capital, convinced a judge there to hold the ship in port until Argentina could pay its 1.3 billion debt to him, debt still owed from when the Argentine economy completely collapsed in 2001.
In short: You no pay? I take your fuckin' boat.
Argentina claimed it was the victim of "a sneak attack of the vulture funds." After 2001, with no possible way to actually pay off their bondholders, Argentina worked out a deal where they would pay them 30 cents on the dollar. Everyone took a loss, but it was widely understood that the only way Argentina was ever going to get out of its financial bind was by clearing its debts once and for all.
But Singer was unconvinced. He would settle for nothing less than complete satisfaction. Filing suit against Argentina, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered the still-struggling nation to pay off its over a billion dollar debt to Singer, opening the door to other bondholders asking for the same treatment under the law. Singer's claim won't put Argentina back out of business again, but this ruling definitely makes it a distinct possibility.
This morning Argentina presented its final briefing in front of an appellate court in New York City. It presents a case against having to pay Singer his money and the economic chaos that could ensue if they did.
As to the fate of the Libertad, Argentina argued successfully in front of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Sea Law would make a pretty great show, btw), and the ship arrived back home on January 9th.
As to the $7.6 million dollars it cost to hold the ship for so long in a foreign port? Ghana is looking squarely at the billionaire pirate, Mr. Paul Singer.