Lionel Messi Can’t Win It This Time: Argentina Loses Hedge Funds Battle in U.S. Supreme Court

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | June 17, 2014 9:56 AM EST

It is about time to know if Argentina manages to win the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. However, the South American nation lost another significant battle on Monday, June 16 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Argentina's plea to pay holdout hedge funds in accordance with its restructured debt offers.

REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Fans of Argentina's soccer team carry a giant picture of Argentina's player Lionel Messi as they celebrate their team's win over Bosnia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, in Kolkata June 16, 2014. Messi finally made his mark on the World Cup and lit up the Maracana with his first goal in the finals for eight years but Argentina had to battle hard for a 2-1 win over debutants Bosnia in their opening Group F match on Sunday.

Argentina has been battling over billions of dollars with NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corporation, for years now. NML bought Argentine debt on a secondary market for a price which was lower than the original amount. Ninety two per cent of creditors restructured in 2005 and 2010 for around $.30 on the dollar. However, NML Capital rejected the proposal and sued Argentina for the full amount in New York State courts. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Argentine government said that the "vulture" funds company wished to "reap a financial windfall on debt" which they had purchased at "deeply discounted prices."

Argentina defaulted on around $81 billion bonds to a group of hedge funds in 2001. The case was fought at U.S. courts as Argentina wanted the legislature to intervene in rescue. However, now that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the hedge funds, Argentina faces the possibility of suffering a new technical default as a bond payment is due in June, The Guardian reported. The high court ruled that hedge funds could access information on where Argentina holds financial assets all over the world.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA Network, said that he was "blown away" by the court's decision. "For heavily indebted countries supporting poor people, this is a devastating blow. These hedge funds are equipped with an instrument that forces struggling economies into submission," LeCompte said. Jubilee has been fighting on behalf of Argentina in U.S. courts. "For 15 years, Republicans and Democrats have agreed that the world's poorest countries need to have their debt burdens reduced," LeCompte said, "Today, that bipartisan policy is threatened by the court's decision."

""If Argentina loses at the Supreme Court, not even the great Lionel Messi will be able to reverse the damage," LeCompte earlier said.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri / )
Fans of Argentina's soccer team carry a giant picture of Argentina's player Lionel Messi as they celebrate their team's win over Bosnia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, in Kolkata June 16, 2014. Messi finally made his mark on the World Cup and lit up the Maracana with his first goal in the finals for eight years but Argentina had to battle hard for a 2-1 win over debutants Bosnia in their opening Group F match on Sunday.
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