UPDATE 4-Argentina defies U.S. court order by depositing debt payment
(Adds president's comments)
By Jorge Otaola
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Argentina deposited a $161 million bond interest payment with a newly appointed local trustee on Tuesday, the Economy Ministry said, defying a U.S. judge who held it in contempt a day earlier for taking illegal steps to meet its debt obligations.
The country wants to show it can service its debt and that its failure in July to complete a payment to holders of bonds that were restructured after its 2002 default was the result of adverse U.S. judicial rulings.
"By making this deposit, Argentina confirms once again its unshakeable commitment to meet its obligations to bondholders," the ministry said in a statement.
It was not clear how many bondholders would receive their coupon payments before the end of the Sept. 30 deadline without the assistance of foreign financial intermediaries, which could violate the U.S. court orders if they aid Argentina.
Luxembourg-based clearing house Clearstream said it always abided by court rulings, and a source at the trustee bank, state-controlled Nacion Fideicomisos, acknowledged little of the deposit had been transferred to creditors.
If the funds fail to reach bondholders, a 30-day grace period would be triggered, after which the default, which has so far confined to Discount bonds, would spread to the Par series.
The central bank deposited the coupon payment on its foreign law Par bonds with Nacion Fideicomisos after the government removed the former trustee, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, to skirt the U.S. court rulings. Continuación...