Malaysia to sue ‘Sulu heirs’

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

She said the government is working hard to ensure that the country’s sovereignty is protected against the claimants who are backed by a company.

“We are going all out to make sure the truth is told and we will sue them. We will do what needs to be done to claim for all the costs for what we have had to face,” she told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

The minister in charge of Law and Institutional Reforms said among them is the 100,000 euro (RM492,000) award by the French court against the claimants.

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 Sulu claimants.

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.Azalina said she is interested to know who was going to pay Malaysia the 100,000 euro award.

“I am not sure who is going to pay, whether it is the eight claimants or their funders,” she said.

She added that action against the claimants would be initiated “once the dust settles.”

She also said the government has had to incur expenses to thwart the “Sulu fraud” perpetrated by the claimants.

“There was a lot of costs involved, covering travelling here and there, hiring of consultants and outside lawyers.

“Someone will have to pay our bills. We will do what we need to do, but I’m not going to tell you what we are going to do, where and how we are going to do it.”

Azalina said the next case involving the arbitration claims would be heard in Amsterdam on June 27, and another in Luxembourg in September.

Although the government would take all necessary steps to defend the nation’s interests and sovereignty in all those cases, she said the main focus would be on the case in Spain where the initial arbitration award originated.

She condemned the claimants for “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, moved his arbitration to Paris where in February 2022 he awarded the US$14.94bil to the Sulu claimants.

Spanish authorities are currently taking criminal action 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 award.

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