(Bloomberg) -- Burford Capital said it would be seeking court permission to begin attaching Argentine assets within weeks to satisfy a $16 billion judgment, saying it was clear that the South American nation had “no intention” of paying.
In a letter Friday to US District Judge Loretta Preska in New York, London-based Burford said it intended to ask her to set Oct. 16 as the date it can begin efforts to execute the judgment and attach assets. Preska earlier this month ordered Argentina to pay the award over its 2012 expropriation of foreign investment in oil company YPF SA.
Burford, a litigation funder that acquired the claims of YPF shareholders in 2015, stands to receive the largest share of the award, or around $6.2 billion. It said on Friday that it needed to begin collection efforts right away because Argentina was not going to cooperate. The firm cited a radio interview in which an Argentine official said the country “does not have to pay” the “completely absurd” judgment.
“Simply put, Argentina has no intention of paying the judgment, and it would be spurious for Argentina to suggest otherwise,” Randy Mastro, a lawyer for Burford, said in the letter, arguing that Argentina should not be given any additional time.
A lawyer for Argentina didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Argentina, which is appealing Preska’s award, has a long history of trying to avoid paying judgments from US courts. Paul Singer’s Elliott Management fought a 15-year legal battle to collect on money owed to bondholders following Argentina’s 2001 sovereign debt default. In 2012, Elliott briefly seized an Argentine naval training vessel, the ARA Libertad, during a port call in the west African nation of Ghana.
Elliott and other bondholders settled with Argentina for $4.65 billion in 2016.
Preska’s award came less than a month after Argentina devalued its peso, and the cash-strapped country would be hard-pressed to pay a $16 billion judgment. In a Sept. 11 interview with Bloomberg Television, Burford Chief Investment Officer Jonathan Molot said the firm had a “reasonable appreciation of the challenges that Argentina faces” and suggested the firm would take a different approach from Elliott.
“I’m not sure that seizing ships is the best strategy,” Molot said.
The case is Petersen Energia Inversora SAU. v. Argentine Republic, 15-cv-02739, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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