A so-called "vulture fund" is now the proud owner of a 100-metre long tall ship. Quartz's Tim Fernholz writes:
A subsidiary of Elliott Capital Management seized the Libertad in a Ghanian port on Sept. 2, after it gained an injunction from a local court to hold the ship and its 200 crew members there. The fund is attempting to collect money it lost when Argentina restructured its debt after a $100 billion default in 2001, cutting payouts down to 30 cents on the dollar. The boat is a 100-meter long tall sailing ship, built in the 1950s as a training vessel for the Argentine nation and currently on a graduation tour for Naval cadets. It is valued at about $10 to $15 million.
The Financial Times reports that the vessel is "a tall ship used by the Argentine Navy to train sailors and a former holder of the world speed record for a transatlantic crossing by sail, was on a graduation tour."
The Argentine foreign ministry alleges that the move “violates the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity" and that “Vulture funds have crossed a new limit in their attacks on the Argentine republic.”
Latin America has a history of military action over unpaid debts, but the seizure of a sovereign nation's miltiary equipment by a private company seems like uncharted waters in international law. If I were captain in the Spanish navy, I might be careful where I dock from now on.