Malaysia says Luxembourg court sets aside request to enforce Sabah arbitration award

Malaysia says Luxembourg court sets aside request to enforce Sabah arbitration award
PHOTO: Unsplash

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s law minister on Thursday (Jan 26) said a Luxembourg court had set aside an attempt made by the heirs of a former sultanate to enforce a US$15 billion (S$20 billion) arbitration award they won against Malaysia.

A French court last year had ordered Malaysia to pay US$14.9 billion to the heirs of the last sultan of Sulu to honour a colonial-era land deal in Malaysia’s Sabah region. Malaysia, which did not participate in the arbitration proceedings, maintains the process is illegal.

Malaysia obtained a stay against the award’s enforcement in France, but the ruling remains enforceable outside France under a United Nations treaty on international arbitration.

Malaysia’s law minister Azalina Othman Said said the District Court of Luxembourg on Tuesday had set aside a request for an “attachment order” made by the Sulu heirs.

It was not immediately clear what impact, if any, the decision would make on the arbitration award. Datuk Seri Azalina did not provide details of the court decision in a statement that described it as a “significant victory” for Malaysia.

ALSO READ: How Malaysia ended up owing $20.6 billion to a sultan's heirs

A lawyer for the heirs did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment and the Luxembourg court could not immediately be reached for confirmation of the decision.

Last July, two Luxembourg-based subsidiaries of Malaysian state oil firm Petronas were seized by court bailiffs as part of the heirs’ efforts to enforce the award.

Ms Azalina did not say whether the decision was related to the seizure of the Petronas units.

“This decision vindicates the government’s policy to vigorously defend Malaysia in every forum to ensure that Malaysia’s interests, sovereign immunity and sovereignty are protected and preserved at all times,” Ms Azalina said in a statement.

Petronas has said it would contest any claims made on its assets. 

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