June 8, 2017 / 9:15 PM / a year ago

U.S. judge reassigns last few cases in Argentina debt saga

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - The New York federal judge who ruled in favor of deep-pocketed hedge funds against the government of Argentina in a historic 15-year-old sovereign debt default dispute has reassigned the last few unresolved cases, court records showed on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, whose rulings were upheld on appeal, oversaw the cases that pitted the successive governments of Presidents Nestor Kirchner and then his wife Cristina Fernandez against creditors, including billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s Elliott Management.

Daniel Pollack, whom Griesa in June 2014 appointed Special Master in the case to facilitate a negotiated settlement between the parties, said the judge had surgery as the result of an accident on Saturday.

“Judge Griesa made an enormous contribution to the resolution of the Argentine debt litigation and it will be remembered as one of the great achievements of his career. It has been an honor for me to work with him as Special Master on the Argentina cases,” Pollack said.

Griesa, the former chief judge for the Southern District of New York, is 86 years old. The Argentina cases, as well as some others on Griesa’s docket, were reassigned to Judge Loretta Preska.

A court official declined to comment on Griesa’s health status, but emailed a response to a Reuters query saying: “Judge Griesa has not left the bench and is still a Senior United States District Judge.”

Creditors who held out from two prior government debt restructuring offers in 2005 and 2010 finally agreed to a multibillion-dollar settlement in the early days of President Mauricio Macri’s administration in February 2016. This effectively ended the long-standing dispute and allowed Argentina, which defaulted on roughly $100 billion in sovereign debt in early 2002, to re-enter the international capital markets.

According to Pollack, the government estimates that nearly 98 percent of all holdout creditors have agreed to settlements.

Editing by Matthew Lewis

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