Prosecutors in Argentina have brought a local criminal complaint of fraud against a U.S. litigation fund group and a Spanish company that managed the country's flagship airlines.

The prosecutor for economic crimes and money laundering targets Burford Capital Ltd. and Spain's Grupo Marsans, which managed Aerolineas Argentinas until its expropriation in 2008.

Agency head Carlos Gonella said at a Monday news conference that Marsans transferred its rights to sue to Burford, which finances commercial litigation in exchange for part of settlements.

He says that was done fraudulently, and that it lost effect when Marsans went bankrupt.

Gonella says the move could open Argentina both to a $1.6 billion demand but also to claims of legitimate rights holders.

Burford said in a statement that the charges are baseless.