Malaysia says sultan’s heirs withdraw claim on Paris buildings

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -Malaysia said the heirs of a former sultan have withdrawn their claims over three Malaysian-owned diplomatic properties in Paris, as part of a $15 billion arbitration dispute between the two sides.

An enforcement judge in Paris on Nov. 9 “recorded the claimants’ withdrawal from the proceedings they had initiated to seize the… diplomatic buildings,” Malaysia’s law ministry said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

The Filipino heirs of the last Sultan of Sulu won a $14.9 billion award in a French arbitration court last year in a long-running dispute over a colonial-era land deal, prompting them to go after Malaysian assets.

But in June, a Paris court upheld the Malaysian government’s challenge against enforcing a partial award.

Paul Cohen, a lawyer for the heirs, said the withdrawal of the charge against the Paris properties followed the June court decision.

He also said the buildings were not diplomatic properties, and that the heirs had lawfully gone after these assets as Malaysia had failed to pay for the preliminary award of 2020.

In the statement, the law ministry said the enforcement judge also quashed an earlier order authorising that a statutory mortgage be registered on the three buildings.

The judge asked the heirs of the sultan to pay 15,000 euros ($16,008) to Malaysia as costs, in addition to the 100,000 euros ordered by a Paris Court of Appeal earlier this year, it said.

“The government of Malaysia is confident that the ultimate annulment of the purported final award by the Paris Court of Appeal is only a matter of time, and is making every effort to secure that result as quickly as possible,” the ministry said.

($1 = 0.9370 euros)

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Martin Petty)