Argentina said Thursday the Bank of New York Mellon was breaching its contract by obeying a court ruling blocking the country from servicing its restructured debt without paying two "holdout" creditors in full.
Buenos Aires is battling to escape its second default in 13 years after two American hedge funds won a US federal court ruling barring the Argentine government from servicing the debt it restructured after its 2001 economic crisis without also paying the holdouts the full $1.3 billion it owes them.
New York District Judge Thomas Griesa ruled Wednesday that Bank of New York Mellon must continue holding an overdue payment of $539 million intended for creditors who have accepted a 70-percent write-down.
But Argentine cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said the bank was violating its contract by complying.
"The most striking thing about the ruling is that it maintains that retaining the funds is not a violation," Capitanich told journalists in Buenos Aires.
"The truth is, that's incorrect, because BoNY is failing to fulfill its trustee contract."
The Argentine government took out an advertisement in national newspapers Thursday urging the 92 percent of creditors who agreed to restructure the country's debt in deals reached in 2005 and 2010 to make another bank the trustee.
"We remind bondholders that there are various rights -- and consequent legal remedies -- at their disposal... in the event that the fiduciary trustee fails to fulfill its obligations," it said.
It is possible "to remove the fiduciary trustee from its position at any time and designate a successor," it added.
Capitanich also lashed out at the latest ruling by the judge, whom Buenos Aires has repeatedly attacked as biased and incompetent.
"Griesa has demonstrated once again that he does not clearly understand the process. He has flagrantly demonstrated his incompetence, his ongoing partiality and his marked dependence on the vulture funds," he said.
The two hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, took Argentina to court to force it to pay them the full value of their bonds, which they bought for pennies on the dollar after the country defaulted in 2001.
Argentina says paying them in full could trigger legal claims for equal treatment by creditors who agreed to a write-down, putting the recession-hit country on the hook for up to $100 billion.