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British Anger Over Argentine Threat to Seize Falkland Oil Company Assets

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Britain has accused Argentina of threatening extra-judicial action in seizing the assets of drilling firms operating outside of their area of influence and “attempting to strangle the Falkland Islands hydrocarbons industry”.

On Saturday, a federal judge in Tierra del Fuego ordered the seizure of $156 million (£99.17 million) in bank accounts, boats and other property belonging to six European and U.S. oil companies operating in the islands.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman was quoted in the local press on Sunday as saying his country intended to pursue the case as part of its claim to the islands’ sovereignty.

British foreign office minister Hugo Swire MP rejected the Argentine grab commented: “This politically motivated decision to target company assets is a wholly unacceptable attempt to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction, and has no legal justification whatsoever”. He said the move was no more than a “flagrant and unacceptable campaign to strangle the Falkland Islands hydrocarbons industry.

“This action, aimed at British and international oil and gas companies, has dangerous implications for global business”.

Argentine belligerence over the Islands, which lie 435 miles from their coast, has been steadily ramping up since the collapse of the old Junta after military defeat at the hands of a British expeditionary force in 1982 wrecked national pride and confidence. Retaking the Islands is now a key platform for national elections – with the next one only three months away rhetoric is reachign fever-pitch.

Reuters Contributed to This Report

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