Government

Argentine Navy Defeats Hedge Fund

The Libertad is being held in port near Accra, Ghana.

The Libertad is being held in port near Accra, Ghana. Michael A. Mariant/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Michael A. Mariant/AP

Let's do this one as a list:

1. The Argentine navy owns and operates a giant sailing ship. (This is relatively common, as it turns out.)

2. A hedge fund called Elliott Associates owns a bunch of bad Argentine bonds — basically, loans Argentina decided not to repay.

3. The hedge fund has been trying to repossess Argentina's giant sailing ship, for partial payment of the debt. (It's also been doing other, more conventional, things to try to get the money.)

3. The ship, called (ironically?) the Libertad, docked in Ghana in October. The hedge fund asked a Ghanain court to seize the ship. The court agreed. The ship has been held in Ghana since then.

4. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is a thing.

5. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea just ruled that Ghana has to let the giant sailing ship leave. "One more time we've delivered," the president of Argentina tweeted. "The frigate is returning."

7. The government of Ghana says it will "carefully consider the tribunal's order with a view to ensuring that it is given effect." Which sounds like they're probably going to let the ship go home.

The ship is good color. But there are a bunch of interesting, complicated themes here that go beyond the ship and get into when countries have to pay back money they owe, and when they don't. For more on those themes, see this manic video with action figures and this sedate column by a law professor.

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