Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) assets worth US$2 billion have reportedly been seized by heirs of the last Sulu sultan.
Financial Times (FT) reported that two Luxembourg subsidiaries of Petronas had been seized by bailiffs as part of an ongoing dispute between the heirs of the Sulu sultanate and the government.
Lawyers of the claimants had seized the offices of Petronas Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) and Petronas South Caucasus.
The lawyers said bailiffs in Luxembourg seized the holding companies on behalf of their clients on Monday, according to FT.
“The move, which is being reported for the first time, is part of legal efforts launched in 2017 by the Sulu heirs to win compensation over land in Sabah that they said their ancestor leased to a British trading company in 1878, before the discovery of vast natural resources in the area,” the report said.
It is understood that Petronas is looking into the matter, although it did not say whether a statement was imminent.
Comments from the Prime Minister’s Office were not immediately available.
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 following an armed intrusion by an army claiming to be from the sultanate, which is defunct.
Malaysia did not participate in the arbitration process in France, arguing that the dispute between Malaysia and the claimants was not a commercial contract, thus not subject to arbitration.