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Chile envoy in Ghana over held Argentine ship
Chilean sailors among crew of vessel seized by Ghana over dispute with creditors about Argentina's 2002 bond default.
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2012 09:32
The Libertad was seized after a Ghanaian court order in response to a suit over Argentina's 2002 bond default [EPA]

Chile will send envoys to Ghana in an attempt to persuade the West African nation to release an Argentine navy ship seized over a dispute with creditors, a top government official has said.

There are 15 Chilean sailors among the crew of the ARA Libertad a three-masted tall ship seized on October 2 by Ghanaian court order in response to a suit over Argentina's 2002 bond default.

Ronald McIntyre, Chile's naval attache in London, will travel to Ghana along with a consular official, Andres Allamand, the defence minister, said on Saturday.

Allamand told the online daily Emol that McIntyre will join a high-level mission that includes Argentina's deputy ministers of defence and foreign affairs.

More than 200 officers, non-commissioned officers and midshipmen on an annual training voyage have been stranded in the port of Tema, near Accra, since the frigate was seized.

The Chileans "are in good condition and carrying out activities on the ship as well as on land", Allamand told Emol.

The crew also includes sailors from Bolivia, Paraguay, Suriname, Peru, Venezuela and South Africa.

Bond required

NML Capital, a so-called "vulture fund" that bought Argentine bonds at a discount when the country's economy was in freefall in 2000, claims in documents filed in a Ghanaian court that it is owed more than $370m, including the outstanding principle plus the interest.

Buenos Aires has rescheduled and refinanced much of its debt, but bonds held by speculative funds are among the unsettled business.

 Ace Ankomah, the Ghanaian lawyer acting on behalf of NML, told the AFP news agency the Libertad could be released "tomorrow" if Argentina posts a bond of $20m.

Argentina argues that, according to the Maritime Rights Convention signed by both countries, military vessels cannot be seized or detained under any circumstances.

NML won its first judgment over Buenos Aires in New York in 2006 and secured a similar victory in Britain's Supreme Court in 2011.

Both courts found Argentina's immunity claims invalid, but the only payment Buenos Aires has made so far was a token $270,000 in August, court documents show.

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