Argentine leader rents plane to avoid seizure
AFPBUENOS AIRES -- Argentine President Cristina Kirchner will go on a four-nation trip in a rented British airplane for fear that her official aircraft would be impounded in a debt dispute, the government said Monday.
January 10, 2013, 1:41 pm TWN
Despite a bitter war of words with London over the Falkland Islands, Kirchner's government is paying British air charter firm Chapman Freeborn US$880,000 for the trip to Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The government's concern is very real: last year, a court in Ghana impounded the Argentine navy ship “Libertad” for two months following a request from NML Capital, a Cayman Islands-based investment firm.
The company, denounced by Argentina's government as a “vulture fund,” says Buenos Aires owes it US$370 million stemming from the nation's debt default a decade ago.
Oscar Parrilli, the presidency's secretary-general, said in a statement that it was “highly probable” that funds would try to detain Kirchner's official Tango 01 (T-01) aircraft on her upcoming trip.
Even though using the official plane would be 20-percent cheaper, the foreign ministry advised against using it “due to the aggressive posture of vulture funds,” he said. A government source said the trip begins in Havana on Thursday.
Kirchner, who rented a Chapman Freeborn charter for previous trips in 2010 and 2011, has traded barbs with British Prime Minister David Cameron over the Falklands, which Britain retained after a bloody war on the islands in 1982.