– The First $3 Billion of a Ukraine Bailout Immediately Go to Russia (Acting Man, March 14, 2014):
This is really too funny. Apparently, the Ukraine owes $3 billion to Russia in bonds that have been issued under UK law. One of the stipulations of the bonds is that if the Ukraine’s debt-to-GDP ratio should exceed 60%, the bonds will become immediately callable.
Once the Ukraine gets funding from the IMF, this is of course going to happen right away – its debt-to-GDP ratio will then most definitely exceed 60%, so the first $3 billion of any aid the Ukraine receives in the form of loans will right away flow into Russia’s coffers.
Of course there may be litigation first, but as Greek bondholders have found out, all those who held bonds issued under UK law were actually paid in full, while everybody else had to accept the ‘PSI’ and could basically go pound sand.
Of course it was all ‘voluntary’, but funny enough, the holders of Greek bonds issued under UK law didn’t turn out to be as altruistic as all the other ones. At least we have not heard of any ‘voluntary’ contributions made by them. It seems rather doubtful that Mr. Putin will be eager to become a voluntary contributor to bailing out a government which he deems illegitimate. Instead he’s going to take his money and run – or alternatively, make as-of-yet unspecified demands.
As Western leaders prepare a bailout package for embattled Ukraine, they face a startling irony: Thanks to the almost bizarre structure of a bond deal between Ukraine and Russia, billions of those dollars are almost certain to go directly into the coffers of the Putin government.
As CNBC has reported, some aid money is bound to go into Russia as a result of energy trade and other economic factors. But the situation is actually much more acute than just that: An existing agreement between the two countries makes an immediate, direct transfer from Ukraine to Russia legally enforceable.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to lend Ukraine $15 billion. Few details were released at the time, except that Ukraine would issue bonds and Russia would buy them in installments through 2014.
The first and only installment occurred in late December, while then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was still in charge in Kiev. The second installment was slated to happen in late February, but it never occurred, because the pro-Russian president had fled Ukraine and a new government was in place.
That first installment was $3 billion — in U.S. dollars, as dictated by the terms of the deal — issued on Dec. 24. It carries a lenient interest rate considering the shattered state of Ukraine’s economy: a coupon of only 5 percent, payable semi-annually on June 20 and Dec. 20. It is short-term debt, maturing on Dec. 20, 2015.
Startlingly, the notes are governed by U.K. law and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of British courts. And most crucially, there is an odd clause in the bonds that has a direct impact on European and American taxpayers, as CNBC learned through a review of the bond agreement:
Paragraph 3 (b) under Covenants:
(b) Debt Ratio So long as the Notes remain outstanding the Issuer shall ensure that the volume of the total state debt and state guaranteed debt should not at any time exceed an amount equal to 60 percent of the annual nominal gross domestic product of Ukraine.
The implications of that clause are that the minute the West or the International Monetary Fund extends a large loan to Ukraine, that country will almost certainly have a debt-to-GDP that exceeds 60 percent, immediately putting the Russian loan into default. That gives Russia the right to demand immediate repayment. And because the bonds are governed by British courts — which, presumably, neither Ukraine nor Russia can manipulate — it would be extremely difficult for Ukraine to avoid making the payment, using its new bailout money.
The American and European tax cows will no doubt be thrilled.
Gimme!!! Putin unexpectedly sees his money reappear via IMF magic.
(Photo source unknown – The Web)
If he doesn’t get it right away, he will look like this.