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US judge threatens to find Argentina in contempt

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm •  Published: August 8, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. judge threatened to hold Argentina in contempt of court Friday for continuing to make "false and misleading" statements about its financial crisis, though he quickly added he most desires a peaceful negotiated end to a long-running debt dispute.

Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan urged both sides to resume negotiations with help from the special master he assigned to resolve a fight over money owed to U.S. hedge funds. No talks have occurred since Argentina failed to pay bondholders on July 30.

He made the contempt threat as he warned Argentina to stop making public statements "that are false and misleading."

It came as the State Department indicated Friday that the U.S. was unlikely to agree to grant jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice in the Hague to hear Argentina's claims that U.S. court rulings amount to "violations of Argentine sovereignty." Argentina had asked the world court to take up the case.

Griesa issued his warning after reading published statements by the South American republic that he said ignored the nation's obligations to U.S. bondholders.

The bondholders are owed about $1.5 billion, which must be paid before hundreds of millions of dollars in bond payments can be passed along to about 92 percent of Argentina's bondholders. They had traded their bonds for lesser-valued bonds in 2005 and 2010 after Argentina's 2001 default.

Attorney Jonathan Blackman, representing Argentina, told Griesa that his law firm had nothing to do with Argentina's statements this week.

He cautioned the judge not to overreact to statements made by political leaders in Argentina who do not consult lawyers first, saying the statements were side issues that should not detract from the "main event."

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