Malaysia takes legal action to stop Sulu heirs’ attempt to seize assets in Netherlands


KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is taking legal action to stop the latest attempt by the self-claimed Sulu heirs to seize supposedly government linked assets including PETRONAS in the Netherlands.

Minister in Prime Minister's Department in charge of Parliament and Law Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that the country is taking legal action to stop the claims based on a controversial and disputed Paris Arbitration Court decision to award US$14.62bil to the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate in February this year.

"Malaysia has instituted legal proceedings in Luxembourg (earlier) and will take similar steps in the Netherlands to resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to enforce or obtain a benefit from the impugned award," he said in a statement Friday (Sept 30).

Wan Junaidi was responding to various reports that the so-called Sulu heirs were attempting in the Dutch courts to use the Paris arbitration award that is currently being disputed by Malaysia in French courts.

"Various Malaysian companies, including PETRONAS linked assets, were mentioned in the media reports.

“I must stress here that PETRONAS’ assets are not assets belonging to the government of Malaysia and it would be an abuse of the process of any court to seek enforcement against such assets,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said the latest attempt to seize assets in the Netherlands is nothing more than yet another opportunistic act, breaching and contravening international arbitration rules and norms under the New York Convention and The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Wan Junaidi said that Malaysia’s main position is that the impugned award rendered in Paris in February 2022 was obtained irregularly and in circumstances of illegality.

"Additionally, no award should be enforced when doing so, it's an unjust action that will cause severe repercussions to the stability of another country," he said.

Wan Junaidi maintained that the award granted by the Arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa was illegal and highly abnormal on many different grounds.

"Taking one example, the seat of arbitration was moved - in breach of Spanish arbitration law - from Spain to France after the Superior Court of Madrid had declared as nullities, both the appointment of the arbitrator and the subsequent arbitral proceedings," he added.

Nonetheless, he said the self-claimed Sulu heirs were continuing their efforts to attempt to enforce the impugned award opportunistically in nation states where Malaysia has dealings.

"Malaysia has taken court proceedings in France and Spain to set aside and render null, once and for all, the impugned award.

"Malaysia is confident that these proceedings will be resolved in Malaysia’s favour. Further, Malaysia has initiated a global strategy to proactively resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to seize or otherwise interfere with Malaysian assets abroad," he added.

The Sulu claimants had attempted to seize PETRONAS assets in Luxembourg earlier this year and Malaysia has instituted legal proceedings to stop the action.

“Malaysia respects and is a proud signatory to the New York Convention. However, Malaysia will not tolerate or capitulate to those who cynically seek to manipulate and

abuse the system for personal gain or profit,” he stressed.

He said that Malaysia will spare no expense in defending its sovereignty and its assets abroad wherever they may be situated.

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