Bailiffs have seized two Petronas subsidiaries in Azerbaijan following a French arbitration court’s ruling in March that Malaysia owed the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu payments of at least RM62.59 billion.
The move to seize Petronas’ Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries, Petronas Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) and Petronas South Caucasus, is part of legal efforts launched in 2017 by the heirs to recoup compensation over land in Sabah that their ancestors had purportedly leased to a British trading company in 1878, according to a report by The Financial Times.
The British daily reported that bailiffs in Luxembourg seized the holding companies, estimated to be worth more than RM8.87 billion, on behalf of their clients on Monday, said FMT in a report adding that it has reached out to Petronas for comment.
“This case is the history of colonialism,” said the heirs’ lawyer, Elisabeth Mason, in the Financial Times report. “Unlike so many dispossessed, our clients have an ongoing contract since 1878 and, as such, have a path to justice where many others did not.”
The dispute has its origin in the 1878 Deed of Cession between the then Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam, and Baron de Overbeck, the then Maharaja of Sabah, and British North Borneo Company’s Alfred Dent.
Under the agreement, Jamal ceded sovereignty over large parts of Sabah to Dent and Overbeck, who agreed that they and their future heirs were to pay the heirs of the sultan 5,000 Mexican dollars annually.
In 1936, the last formally recognised sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II, died without heirs, and payments temporarily ceased until North Borneo High Court chief justice Charles F Macaskie named nine court-appointed heirs in 1939.