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NML, EM Win U.S. Order Freezing Argentine Assets

May 28 (Bloomberg) -- NML Capital Ltd. and EM Ltd., so-called vulture funds with judgments against Argentina for defaulted bonds, won a court order freezing $3.1 billion of assets in the U.S. belonging to Argentina and its central bank.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in New York today froze “any property in the United States” which “could be assigned or transferred,” according to a 7-page order. That includes cash, gold, special drawing rights, deposits, real property, securities, claims and contractual rights held directly or indirectly by Argentina or the bank.

NML and EM have won judgments against Argentina that total, with interest, $2.4 billion, Griesa said. The order of attachment is directed to BNA, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and HSBC Bank USA, a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc.

Argentina is restructuring $18.3 billion worth of bonds held out of a 2005 settlement after the nation defaulted on $95 billion in debt in 2001. Economy Minister Amado Boudou said May 19 that about $8.5 billion, or 46 percent, of the eligible debt had been tendered so far. The offer, as measured in net-present value terms, was worth about 42.5 cents on the dollar last week, according to RBS Securities Inc. The swap closes on June 7.

Argentina’s attorney, Carmine Boccuzzi, and Robert Cohen, a lawyer for NML didn’t immediately return calls.

NML, based in the Cayman Islands, says it’s one of Argentina’s largest creditors. It has been seeking information about accounts held by 148 ministries, 136 individual ministers, secretaries or other officials, and 43 entities not responsible for the republic’s debts, according to a legal brief by Argentina.

In a separate development yesterday, a federal appeals court ordered Griesa to recalculate damages he awarded to holders of defaulted Argentine bonds who have joined in a group lawsuit.

The case is NML v. Argentina 09-cv-1708, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters responsible for this story: David Glovin in New York federal court at dglovin@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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