No summon from Paris court: Sultanate

A Sultanate of Sulu official branded yesterday as “disinformation” the statement by Malaysia that the sultanate’s heir-claimants will be summoned by the Paris court regarding the seizure order on three properties in the French city to enforce the $ 14.9-billion award.

“It’s just propaganda to make the Malaysian people believe that they are addressing the arbitration,” the official said.

He pointed out the Malaysian government has not participated in the arbitration proceedings and did not recognize the arbitration court decision invoking the sultanate’s sovereignty.

“During the arbitration proceedings only our lawyers were present without any Malaysian lawyers,” the official said.

He said the sultanate’s lawyers have expanded their move to enforce the $14.9-billion arbitration award against Malaysian assets in the Netherlands and all over the world.

Malaysia was able to secure a stay from a Luxembourg court that lifted the seizure order but sultanate lawyers are expected to appeal the ruling.

The legal move in the Netherlands is the second legal action against Malaysia. More assets will be targeted for seizure in other countries that are signatories to the United Nations New York Convention.
“The sultanate is awaiting the legal action filed in the Netherlands last October,” the official said.

Sultanate lawyers had filed a petition in The Hague Court of Appeals seeking permission to seize Malaysian assets in the Netherlands to enforce the award.

The heirs of the sultan wish to take recourse against the assets of Malaysia which are located in the Netherlands, a report said.

“This filing in the Netherlands will soon be followed by other enforcement actions of varying types in the Multiple jurisdictions,” Barrister Paul Cohen, for the sultanate, said.

This may include the immediate, direct attachment of specific Malaysian assets in the Netherlands and elsewhere, Cohen told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The petition did not mention specific assets but some of the Malaysian state-owned companies in the Netherlands include Petronas and palm oil producer Sime Darby plantations.

A French arbitration court in February ordered Malaysia to pay the sum of $14.9 billion to the descendants of the last Sultan of Sulu to settle a dispute over a colonial-era land deal.

Lawyers for the sultanate said the February ruling remains legally enforceable outside France through the New York Convention, a UN treaty on international arbitration recognized by 170 countries.

Malaysia has secured a stay order from a Paris appellate court, but sultanate lawyers said the stay order does not cover other countries.

The “stay” that seems to comfort the Malaysian government temporarily delays local enforcement in one country, France itself,” said 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.”

With some exceptions, such as diplomatic premises, any Malaysian government-owned asset within nations party to the UN convention is eligible for enforcing the award, said Elisabeth Mason, another lawyer for the heirs.

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