Malaysian Assets at Risk as Sultan of Sulu Heirs Claims $14.9 Billion Award

 International Malaysian assets is now at risk as the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu claims or seeking to seize Malaysian government assets around the world in a bid to enforce a $14.9 billion arbitration award they won against Malaysia. 

The Malaysian assets is still at risk according to some legal experts despite the fact that a stay on the case was handed by a French court. 

Last February 2022 a French arbitration court ordered the Malaysian government to pay the sum to the descendants of the last Sultan of Sulu to settle a dispute over a colonial-era land deal. 

In response to the statement released by the lawyers of the Sultanate of Sulu, Malaysia said that the Paris Court of Appeal had stayed the ruling, after finding that enforcement of the award could infringe the country's sovereignty. 

Malaysia's Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the stay would prevent the award from being enforced as Malaysia works to set aside the ruling. 

Lawyers for the claimants, the Sultanate of Sulu, however, say the February ruling remains legally enforceable outside France through the New York Convention, a U.N. treaty on international arbitration recognised in 170 countries.

“The ‘stay’ that seems to comfort the Malaysian government temporarily delays local enforcement in one country, France itself,” said Paul Cohen, the heirs’ lead co-counsel, of London-based law firm 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.

“It does not apply to the other 169.”

One of the assets being held by the lawyers of the Sultanate of Sulu is the Petronas assets, the heirs claim to be successors-in-interests to the last Sultan of Sulu, who entered a deal in 1878 with a British trading company for the exploitation of resources in territory under his control - including what is now the oil-rich Malaysian state of Sabah, on the northern tip of Borneo.

The Malaysian government took over the arrangement after Independence from Britain, annually paying token sum to the heirs, who are Philippine nationals. 

Although payments were already stopped in the year 2013, with Malaysia arguing that no one else had a right over Sabah, which was part of its territory. The claimants last week moved to seize two Luxembourg-based units of Malaysian state oil firm Petronas as part of the efforts to enforce the award. 

Meanwhile, the state-owned Petronas, describe the seizure as "baseless," and said it will defend its legal position, adding that the units have divested their assets. 

Lawyers for the heirs said the units were now under the control of bailiffs in Luxembourg, pending any appeal by Petronas against the seizure.

Source: Reuters

Malaysian Assets at Risk as Sultan of Sulu Heirs Claims $14.9 Billion Award Malaysian Assets at Risk as Sultan of Sulu Heirs Claims $14.9 Billion Award Reviewed by Phil Newsome on July 17, 2022 Rating: 5
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