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Argentina may sue banks over Falklands oil

02 april 2012, 15:16
Argentina has threatened to sue several international banks for advising firms hunting for oil off the Falkland Islands and writing reports on them, AFP reports citing a newspaper.

Buenos Aires has warned banks including US giant Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and the London-based Barclays Capital that they face criminal and civil action in Argentina, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Britain and Argentina have been engaged in a renewed war of words over the Falklands in recent months as the 30th anniversary of their brief but bloody conflict over the archipelago in the South Atlantic approaches.

The island's oil reserves, which remain untapped until now but which analysts predict could be worth tens of billions of dollars, have been a major source of tension between the countries since their discovery in 1998.

Argentina's embassy in London issued the threats in letters to 15 banks in the last 10 days, the Sunday Telegraph reported, a day ahead of the 30th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the islands.

The letter reportedly warns banks that even writing research notes on companies involved in oil exploration off the archipelago would represent "a violation of the applicable domestic and international rules".

Argentina vowed last month to take legal action against the five London-listed companies involved in oil exploration off the Falklands.

Only one of the companies, Rockhopper, has so far confirmed significant reserves, in the Sea Lion field to the north of the islands.

But analysts Edison Investment Research estimated in a report last month that a total of 8.3 billion barrels could lie offshore.

This could generate some $180 billion (£113 billion, 135 billion euros) for the Falklands' local government in royalties and tax revenues, said EIR, which the Sunday Telegraph said was among the researchers threatened by Argentina.

The newspaper said Credit Suisse and Barclays were among the banks that had advised or raised funds for the oil companies, while Goldman Sachs had reportedly completed research on Falklands exploration.

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