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According to independent lawyers, Malaysia may see more asset seizures by the Sulu Sultanate’s heirs. 

Thus, they say, the saga is not over despite Malaysia’s assurances that the ‘attacks’ against its sovereignty are now over.

A Financial Times report says that a day after the seizures of Petronas assets in Luxembourg, a Paris judge suspended the enforcement of the $14.9bn award until the appeal is concluded. 

As a result, Kuala Lumpur declared that the award was no longer enforceable anywhere in the world. 

However, independent legal experts and Estudio de Comunicación, a Spanish public relations firm that represents Malaysia in Europe, insist that the suspension only applies in France.

This prompted the Sulu heirs to state that there will be more seizures of Malaysian assets soon.

An arbitrator, Gonzalo Stampa, made a decision in February in France ruling in favour of the sultan’s heirs and found that Malaysia, which inherited the obligations of the 1878 lease agreement upon securing independence from the UK in 1963, must pay them $14.9bn in compensation.

Miscommunication

An earlier hearing in Spain had been halted after Malaysia complained that communications were not handled properly.

Malaysia is appealing Stampa’s decision and has described the case as an attack on its sovereignty.

Malaysia is expected to see more clearly on its responsibilities in the matter after being caught off guard by the seizure of assets in Luxembourg.

It intends to form a task force to investigate the situation and try to prevent further asset seizures.

As for the Sulu heirs’ representatives, they argue they were pushed to take these measures after Malaysia refused to engage.

According to Paul Cohen, lead counsel for the claimants and a lawyer at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square in London, litigation was the “final resort.”

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