NEW YORK (AP) — Argentina can avoid defaulting on debt payments due Monday by negotiating with U.S. hedge funds that are owed $1.65 billion, a federal judge said Friday as he all but pleaded for the South American nation to engage in talks.
"Get the republic to the table," U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa told lawyers as he adjourned a hearing. It had been hastily called to address Argentina's attempt to pay $832 million to bondholders who swapped their bonds for bonds with reduced value after Argentina's economy collapsed in 2001. The judge said it would be illegal for Argentina to make that payment to the majority of its bondholders without also paying the U.S. hedge funds that refused to participate in bond swaps in 2005 and 2010.
Argentina's next installment to the majority of its creditors is due Monday, though the government has a 30-day grace period after that to avoid going into a catastrophic default.
A lawyer for the Bank of New York Mellon said it had received $539 million from Argentina for distribution to the bondholders who had exchanged their bonds for lesser value ones. Griesa ordered the bank to return the money to Argentina.