Oh, great, like hedge fund managers don’t have enough power, now they’re starting to repossess military equipment.
Paul Singer, head of Elliot Capital Management, has been in a bit of an argument with Argentina for the past decade. At issue is $1.6 billion of bonds that pretty much became worthless when Argentina went broke in 2001.
Most people accepted that they’re facing a country that could shoot them if they felt like it and just settled for 30 cents on the dollar. Singer, however, wanted all his $1.6 billion back, because really, what are you going to do with roughly $500 million? What do you think Singer is? Middle class?
So instead he asked Ghana to repossess the flagship of Argentina’s navy, the ARA Libertad, when it docked there.
Amazingly, Ghana actually did it.
It’s unlikely he’ll be able to hang onto the keys for long: It’s unlikely Singer is allowed to take military equipment to collect on a debt under international law. Even if it is, this isn’t a precedent that most countries actually want set, for reasons of both bad publicity and the fact that you probably don’t want really rich people to own battleships. If all else fails, we’re betting the Argentinian armed forces can just take their ship back, possibly rechristening it as the Singer Is A Douche in the process.
Still, the next time somebody argues that the power of the upper class is overstated, you might want to hang onto this article to point out that, uh, maybe not.