Argentina to appeal US order to pay defaulted debt

Argentina said Thursday it will appeal a US judge's ruling ordering it to pay $1.33 billion to investment funds holding bonds that the country defaulted on in 2001.

"We will file an appeal Monday before the court," Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino said at a news conference. "We do not think it is right or legitimate to pay vulture funds."

On Wednesday, US District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered Argentina to pay holders of the original defaulted bonds in full -- about $1.33 billion -- next month when interest payments are due to holders of its restructured debt.

"Argentina owes this and owes it now," Griesa said in his ruling.

Argentina, which took the controversial step of defaulting on $100 billion in debt in 2001, has since restructured its debt twice.

NML Capital Ltd, a Cayman Islands-based investment fund, and other creditors did not accept bond swaps conducted by the Argentine government in 2005 and 2010 and went to court to demand payment of interest on securities in default.

At the time payments were stopped, NML Capital Ltd. held about $170 million in bonds, while another firm, EM Ltd., held some $700 million.

Lorenzino said Argentina fight the order to pay all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

At the same time, he attacked Judge Griesa's ruling as "judicial colonialism."

"It goes above the laws and sovereignty of Argentina and affects the international financial system," he said.

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