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For many years, Argentina was nearly as good at infuriating U.S courts as it was at not paying its bills (which is why it was in U.S. courts in the first place). In addition to announcing its plans to ignore whatever those courts said in advance of the saying, the “uniquely recalcitrant debtor” more-or-less openly campaigned for then-President Barack Obama to bump off the elderly federal judge who was being so mean to it, and, barring that, urging the bondholders it was not allowed to pay to sue him, not it, which is not, you know, how it works. This was at times amusing to the late U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, but much more often it was quite annoying, the shovelfuls of disrespect dumped upon him and the whole U.S. legal system by a serial sovereign deadbeat.

Since then, Argentina has again stopped paying its bills, but has not resumed its “throw garbage at effigies of elderly members of the Southern District of New York bench” approach to litigation. Who will pick up the baton of keeping American courts in their place? And who will play the role of Paul Singer here? Well, the answer to the latter is defunct Canadian miner Crystallex International, and the former is Crystallex’s erstwhile partner and subsequent lawsuit sparrer, Venezuela, although it must be said that the country is really just dipping its toe into the water compared with Argentina’s shining example, although the Nicolás Maduro regime—not recognized by this country as Venezuela’s legitimate government and thus not technically party to an order to sell off Venezuela’s stake in Citgo, a sale which cannot under U.S. law happen anyway—is doing its best.

Judge Stark said that each day Crystallex’s roughly $1 billion judgment goes unpaid is “arguably something of an affront” to the U.S. judicial system…. The Foreign Ministry in Caracas called the sale order a fraud in a statement Saturday, perpetrated by ideological foes in Washington. “They’re dividing up the booty at the last hour of [the Trump administration] with the complicity of its failed local puppet,” the government’s Foreign Ministry said.

Judge Calls Venezuela’s $1 Billion Nonpayment to Creditor an Affront to U.S. Courts [WSJ]


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The late Judge Thomas P. Griesa. By John Haslam from Dornoch, Scotland [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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