BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Argentina deposited a $161 million payment on its restructured debt Tuesday, defying a US judge who ruled it in contempt of court and ordered it to pay two “holdout” creditors first.
The Argentine government, forced into default for the second time in 13 years as a result of the bitter legal dispute, said it had deposited the payment in a Buenos Aires account of the state-run Banco Nacion, just in time for a Tuesday deadline.
“By making said deposits, the Argentine Republic has once again demonstrated its unbreakable commitment to fulfill all its obligations to bondholders and contribute by any means available to preserve their right to collect payment,” the economy ministry said.
The South American country is trying to meet its obligations to creditors who agreed to take steep losses on their bonds after it defaulted on $100 billion in debt during its 2001 economic crisis.
But it has been blocked by US federal judge Thomas Griesa, who has ordered the country to first repay two hedge funds demanding the full $1.3 billion face value of their bonds.
Griesa ruled Monday that Argentina was in contempt of court after it passed a law allowing the government to repay creditors in Buenos Aires or Paris – skirting the New York judge’s freeze on the bank accounts it previously used to service its debt.