Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has found the magic term used to justify the most absurd violations of privacy and validate almost any tactic: she discovered the word “terrorist.”

Kirchner seems to have gone on an off the reservation rant as of late, first calling holdout hedge funds part of an “international mafia,” and then labeling a US printing company a “terrorist” because it was closing an Argentine production facility.

Argentina Flag

 

Argentina may press criminal charges against RR Donnelley

According to a Wall Street Journal report, justice authorities in Argentina may press criminal charges – that’s criminal charges – against US printing giant RR Donnelley & Sons Co (NASDAQ:RRD) because it closed down its Argentine facility, leading to the loss of some 400 jobs.

Kirchner is threatening to lean on a controversial anti terrorism law in light of Argentina’s recent defeat in US court over its debt and related efforts to damage the economy.  “We are faced with a true case of a fraudulent maneuver and attempt to sow fear in the population,” Kirchner was quoted as saying. “We are also going to the [U.S.] Securities and Exchange Commission.”

The anti-terrorism law being used to attack private enterprise business decisions was passed into law in 2011. It hands the government unprecedented powers to prosecute not only individuals but also businesses suspected of trying to destabilize the economy and financial system through speculative maneuvers, the Journal report noted.  Kirchner has in the past taken large US banks and big business to task for manipulating runs on the Argentine currency and the Argentine central bank’s foreign-currency reserves in a bid to undermine her government. While it is commonly known that the US uses monetary policy as a tool to influence the economies of countries to achieve diplomatic goals, an issue outlined in the book Currency Wars by James Rickards, conclusively documenting individual cases is difficult.

This could be part of the “international mafia” charge that Argentine officials are making.  “Today we are in the hands of an international financial power comprised of small, voracious interests that form a real international mafia,” Argentine Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich was reported as saying in the Reuters report.

Hedge funds going after Argentina’s hidden assets

What’s left is for the holdout hedge funds to start tracking down Argentina’s assets, unlocking a critical weapon: disclosure of potentially illicit or illegal assets of Argentine officials.

As previously reported in ValueWalk on several occasions, if Argentina defaulted on its debt, the holdouts were expected to begin to seize Argentine assets in what will likely play out as an interesting game of hide and seek.

Robert Cohen, the lead attorney for NML Capital, a subsidiary of Elliott Management which is considered a holdout hedge fund leader, said shell companies potentially controlled by Argentina’s ruling elite were allegedly hiding $65 million in embezzled Argentine assets and were “just the tip of a very large iceberg.”

The holdouts could “begin scouring the Nevada desert for Argentine money, after a Nevada court on Aug. 11 compelled representatives of 123 companies registered in the state to comply with NML’s searches,” the report noted.

Let the games begin.