Probe into those behind the Sulus

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking into the possibility that some hidden American hands are behind the so-called Sulu heirs who are staking a claim on Sabah.

The Cabinet has been made aware of the matter and investigations are under way to find out the mastermind behind the case, said Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The minister in charge of Law and Institutional Reforms said they had evidence to show the Sulus’ funder was from the United States but it needed to be verified.

“A lot of ‘notes’ were from the US and based on our website (specially dedicated to the Sulu case), we found a lot of the visitors were Americans.

“We’re not sure if the Americans are the ones behind this (case) but they seem to enjoy seeing Asian countries being involved in this matter,” she told a press conference at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) yesterday.

“There are links pointing to the United States. That’s why we’re investigating,” she said, adding that the Foreign Minister would be responsible for the matter.

She was responding to a question whether the funder, for the British-based litigation firm Therium Capital Management Ltd, was European or Middle Eastern.

Azalina also said the Attorney-General’s Chamber had been ordered to contact Therium and also to ask Malaysia’s lawyers in the United Kingdom to write to the company for disclosure of its agreement with the claimants.

“We are giving the funders the benefit of the doubt. We want to know if they are actually aware of the development of the case,” she said.

Azalina said the government was also still in the dark about the real motives behind the claims made by the eight self-proclaimed Sulu heirs.

“We don’t know if it is financially motivated fraud movement or involves sovereignty issues,” she said.

The minister said Malaysia would now go on the offensive against the claims.

It would leverage local and international media to disseminate credible information about the Sulu case.

She also said the government was in the process of finding out the mastermind behind the whole case.

Azalina also said the government would organise a series of colloquiums to spread fact-based information both in the country and in London.

“It’s not a desperate defence but the right defence. We are not afraid.

“The government will fight to the end. Before that, we want them (the claimants) to pay the (arbitration) cost,” she added.

The government is looking to receive €100,000 (RM492,000) as awarded by the French court against the claimants.

Previously, Azalina said the Malaysian government would be suing the self-proclaimed heirs and their backers for damages.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal in the Hague, the Netherlands, decided in favour of Malaysia on compensation claims by the eight claimants.

The court’s decision marks the nation’s third successful bid at thwarting attempts by the claimants who want compensation of US$14.94bil (RM68.8bil) from Malaysia.

The claimants had already failed in their bids in Spain and France earlier this year.

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