By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - A group of Argentine investors
who refused to take part in their country's debt restructurings
spoke in New York on Tuesday about how they feel betrayed and
mistreated by their government, which is fighting U.S. court
orders to pay the holdouts.
Argentina defaulted on $100 billion of foreign debt in 2002,
and holdout creditors have won several billion dollars worth of
judgments in U.S. courts but have collected almost nothing due
to sovereign immunity laws.
About 92 percent of creditors received between 25 percent
and 29 percent on the dollar when bond swaps were carried out.
Holdout creditors still own roughly $11 billion in defaulted
paper, according to private estimates.
"I invested most of my savings in Argentine bonds because I
am Argentinian. I preferred to buy Argentine bonds because I
believe in my country," said Raul Roveda, a retired chemical
Roveda, 68, said he did not take part in the debt swaps in
2005 and 2010 because he would have received only 16 percent of
his capital back.
"Forget about all the interest. It was a ridiculous figure,"
Argentina is seeking to have the U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York overturn a finding in
November that was in favor of the holdout creditors.
A court showdown is set for Feb. 27.
The group of 14 Argentines and one Uruguayan bemoaned the
government's refusal to pay them, despite rulings in their favor
both in U.S. and Argentine courts.
Oscar Secco, a 79-year-old retired oil executive who had an
Argentine flag stuck in the lapel of his sports coat, said he
wanted the government to abide by the law and to act civilized.
"I want my country to be orderly. I want the government to
behave," said Secco, who bought about $600,000 of bonds in 1994,
1996 and 1997.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez refers to investors
who refused to enter the restructurings as "vultures," because
hedge funds often buy distressed or defaulted debt and then sue
in the courts to get paid in full.
Maria Teresa Munoz, 76, said she invested both savings and
her severance from a Swiss company, where she had worked for 42
years as a bilingual secretary, when it left Argentina in 1998.
Munoz said she couldn't afford proper care when her mother
became ill, even though both had pensions.
"It was a very hard time for both of us," said Munoz, adding
she had tried to "hide our difficulties" from her mother.
She regretted having bought Argentine debt, but she had
dreamed of having a good retirement.
"I want my money back. I don't want to be a burden on
others. I hope God helps us," Munoz said.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered Argentina two
months ago to deposit $1.33 billion to pay the creditors, who
are led by NML Capital Ltd, part of a firm run by billionaire
hedge fund manager Paul Singer, and the Aurelius Capital
The number of individual holdouts is unknown. Two in the
group traveling to New York are part of 13 Argentines who stand
to receive about $900,000 if Griesa's order is fulfilled, a
lawyer at the news conference said.
The others on the trip, which was paid for by American Task
Force Argentina, a lobby for the holdout creditors, are part of
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