Azalina: Malaysia will sue Sulu heirs, backers for damages

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will sue the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and their backers for damages, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

"As far as we are concerned, we are going all out to make sure that the truth is told and we will sue them. We will do what needs to be done to claim for all the costs,” she said.

The Minister in charge of Law and Institutional Reforms said among them is the €100,000 (RM492,000) awarded to the government by the French court against the claimants.

Azalina said this at a press conference on Wednesday (June 7).

On June 6, a Paris Court of Appeal decided in favour of Malaysia and set aside a Paris Arbitration Court's purported award of US$14.94bil (RM68.8bil) to the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

The court also reversed a decision by the President of the Paris Court of Justice on Sept 29, 2021, granting execution of the arbitral award rendered in Madrid on May 25, 2020, by controversial Spanish Arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa.

"I am interested in who is going to pay us the €100,000 awarded by the Paris court. I am not sure who is going to pay, whether it is the eight claimants or their funders," Azalina said.

Asked when the action will be brought against the eight claimants or their funders, Azalina said it will be done "once the dust settles".

She said that the government has incurred expenses to thwart the "Sulu fraud" perpetrated by the claimants.

"There was travelling here and there, the hiring of consultants and outside lawyers. Someone will have to pay our bills. We will do what we need to do but I am not going to tell you what we are going to do, where and how we are going to do it," she said.

Azalina said that the next case involving the arbitration claims will be heard in Amsterdam on June 27 with another in Luxembourg in September.

She condemned the claimants' "commercial window shopping" in an attempt to enforce the arbitration claims in other legal jurisdictions although the initial award had since been set aside by the Spanish courts.

Stampa, who ignored a decision by a court in Spain to stop the Sulu arbitration case in Madrid in 2020, had moved his arbitration to Paris where he awarded the US$14.94bil to the Sulu claimants.

Spanish authorities are currently taking criminal action (contempt of court) against Stampa for ignoring the ruling to stop the arbitration case.

Malaysia had obtained a stay order on July 12, 2022, for the enforcement of the purported final award.

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