(Bloomberg) — Investors seeking to collect a $16.1 billion court judgment from Argentina over its 2012 takeover of oil company YPF SA can start going after its assets, as a US judge ruled against the nation’s bid to push back those collection efforts.
The ruling is a blow to Argentina as it appeals US District Judge Loretta Preska’s September judgment — the biggest ever ordered by the federal court in Manhattan. The South American nation, beset by economic distress including surging inflation, says the judgment equals almost one-fifth of its 2023 budget and that paying it would cause severe hardship.
The ruling came after Argentina missed a Jan. 10 deadline to pledge assets, a condition that would have allowed it to appeal the judgment without having to post a bond securing the full amount.
Preska ruled in November that Buenos Aires could delay payment, pending its appeal, without the bond. But the judge put a condition on that delay: By Jan. 10 the country had to pledge an equity interest in YPF, and proceeds from a hydroelectric dam project, as security for the investors, including former shareholders of YPF led by the litigation funder Burford Capital.
Burford stands to reap $6.2 billion of the judgment. It didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the ruling. A spokeswoman for Argentina’s Economy Ministry didn’t return a phone message.
Read More: Argentina Gets Delay on Payment of $16.1 Billion in YPF Case
In her ruling on Thursday, Preska agreed with Burford’s position that a reasonable amount of time has passed since the judgment, rejecting Argentina’s argument that the investors shouldn’t be allowed to start going after the assets yet.
The case is Petersen Energia Inversora SAU v. Argentine Republic, 15-cv-02739, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
(Adds details of ruling and background.)
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