In a statement today, Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin questioned why the government allowed the country’s assets to be confiscated.
“How can the government allow such a thing to happen? Why was there no injunction or restraining order filed against the purported Sulu sultanate heirs from doing more malicious damage?
“What has been done since the last time when the arbitration order was obtained? What has been done to set aside the arbitration order?
“Nothing it seems! This smacks of sheer negligence on the part of the attorney-general and Petronas’ legal team,” Chan (above) said without mincing words.
When contacted by Malaysiakini today, Idrus said the Attorney-General’s Chambers “has just been informed and is looking into the matter”.
Assets worth US$2b
Earlier, London-based Financial Times reported that the purpoted heirs of the Sulu sultanate – who are claiming US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) from Malaysia – seized two Luxembourg-incorporated subsidiaries of Petronas.
Lawyers of the claimants seized Petronas Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) and Petronas South Caucasus, reportedly worth US$2 billion.
The lawyers said bailiffs in Luxembourg seized the holding companies on behalf of their clients yesterday.
Purported descendants of the last Sulu sultan, Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, are claiming the astronomical sum from Malaysia following an arbitration process.
The arbitration process was initiated in response to Malaysia cutting off the annual lease payments of RM5,300 to the Sulu sultanate in 2013.
Malaysia did not participate in the arbitration process in France, arguing that the dispute between Malaysia and the claimants was not a commercial contract and thus not subject to arbitration. MKINI
KOTA KINABALU: The self-proclaimed heirs of the Sulu sultanate claim to have seized the assets of two PETRONAS companies in Luxembourg but questions have been raised over the so-called “seizure”.
A check by The Star found that PETRONAS Azerbaijan’s 15.5% stake in Azerbaijan’s largest gas field Shah Deniz in the Caspian Sea was sold to an Azerbaijani oil company, SOCAR (which bought 4.35%), British BP (1.16%) and Russian Lukoil (9.99%).
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed had said in October last year that the sale of the Abzerbaijan stakes were part of a commercial decision.
In a short press release yesterday night, PETRONAS confirmed that its two subsidiaries mentioned in the report have been served with ‘Saisie-arret’ (notice of seizure) on July 11, 2022.
“PETRONAS wishes to clarify that these subsidiaries, PETRONAS Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) S.à r.l. and PETRONAS South Caucasus S.à r.l., have previously divested its entire assets in the Republic of Azerbaijan and the proceeds from the exercise have been duly repatriated.
“PETRONAS views the actions taken against it as baseless and is working vigorously to defend its legal position on this matter.”
A news report by the London-based Financial Times said that the Sulu heirs had invoked a controversial Paris Arbitration Court decision to award US$14.92bil (RM63bil) to them in their claims against Malaysia.
They claimed Malaysia owed them the money over an 1878 treaty under which the then North Borneo, ruled by the British, had to pay a lease to the Sulus.
Sabah and Putrajaya do not recognise any claims by the defunct Sulu sultanate.
It is not clear if there was any order from a Luxembourg court to allow for the seizure of the properties.
The Financial Times, quoting lawyers for the eight Sulu heirs, said bailiffs had seized the two Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries on behalf of their clients on Monday.
They claimed the two PETRONAS subsidiaries could be worth more than US$2bil (RM8.8bil).
The Malaysian government has stated that it does not recognise the award in Paris, as the decision came when superior courts in Spain and France had issued a suspension order on the case.
Malaysia has since filed an appeal over the award as it was not represented during the Paris arbitration hearings.
Spanish international arbitrator, Gonzalo Stampo, had, in fact, been stopped by superior courts in Madrid from carrying out a hearing for the Sulu heirs, but then sat in the Paris Arbitration Court to give the award, ruling that the 1878 treaty was a commercial “international private lease agreement” for which Malaysia was liable.
Stampa said that by not paying the cession money since 2013, Malaysia had breached the agreement and gave the country three months to pay up, failing which interest would be charged.
The Malaysian government had submitted notices to 168 countries on a possible unilateral legal claim by the Sulu heirs following Stampa’s decision.
In May this year, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said signatories of the New York Convention – and arbitration agreement – were informed of a possible attempt by Stampa or other parties to bring a unilateral claim to their courts.
The Attorney General’s Chambers is also in the midst of going through the so-called seizure of assets.
Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun told the New Straits Times: “The AGC has just been informed and is looking into the matter.” ANN