KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — The Malaysian government today said it plans to bring a group of self-styled Sulu heirs to court to cancel out their eyeing of the Malaysian embassy buildings in France.

In a statement issued by Malaysia’s special secretariat dealing with the purported Sulu heirs’ claims, the Malaysian government clarified that there was actually no attempted seizure of the country’s embassy in Paris, France as stated in news reports.

The Malaysian government instead said there were attempts by those claiming to be bailiffs to enter the buildings of Malaysia’s embassy in France, but pointed out that diplomatic missions’ buildings are not allowed to be searched under international conventions.

“On the morning of 6 March 2023, individuals presenting themselves as bailiffs approached the Embassy of Malaysia located at 4 rue Bénouville, and the front of the staff residence at 48 and 50 rue de la Faisanderie. They requested access into the respective premises to survey the premises, on the reason to obtain a description of the properties.

“The diplomatic staff at the respective premises told the bailiffs this is not possible and turned them away. The bailiffs left shortly after. This was not an attempt to seize the properties,” the secretariat said in the statement here.

The secretariat said Malaysia has received preliminary legal advice, which suggests that the purported Sulu heirs had instructed these bailiffs to obtain a description of these embassy buildings, on the basis of a statutory mortgage registered on these buildings on November 3, 2022 on an authorisation order granted on an ex parte basis from the Paris Court of First Instance.

The secretariat said the alleged Sulu heirs were doing this following arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa’s purported partial award on May 25, 2020 where he decided that he himself could carry out the arbitration and an exequatur order from the High Court in Paris on September 29, 2021 — which recognised Stampa’s May 2020 decision. But the secretariat pointed out that the Malaysian government is challenging these two decisions in various proceedings in France and other countries.

“Moving forward, it is Malaysia’s intention to summon the Sulu claimants to appear before the court which granted the authorisation order to obtain the cancellation of the registration of the mortgage. The statutory mortgage is not an enforcement measure per se,” it said.

“Malaysia maintains that the premises of any diplomatic mission shall be inviolable and shall be immune from any search, requisition, attachment or requisition under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” it added.

The Malaysian government said Malaysia does not recognise the purported commercial arbitration which was started by the Sulu claimants, and stressed that Malaysia will “continue to vigorously defend its sovereignty through the appropriate legal forums”.

This is the third set of Malaysian assets that the alleged Sulu heirs have been trying to seize, after Stampa decided on February 28, 2022 that Malaysia should pay US$14.92 billion to the eight Sulu claimants.

The Sulu heirs are also attempting to seize Malaysia’s oil firm Petronas’s assets in Luxembourg, as well as assets in the Netherlands, in their bid to enforce Stampa’s US$14.92 billion award.

The Sulu claimants started arbitration in 2019 with Stampa who was appointed in Spain. Later when a Spanish court cancelled Stampa’s appointment as an arbitrator for the case, Stampa and the Sulu claimants ignored this and shifted the entire arbitration to France.

Ignoring Spanish and French courts’ decisions which meant the arbitration was illegitimate, Stampa later proceeded to give his arbitration decision in February 2022 to order Malaysia to pay US$14.92 billion to the eight Sulu claimants.

But Malaysia has said that the entire arbitration including Stampa’s US$14.92 billion award is invalid, and has since said it will continue to work to preserve the country’s interests, sovereign immunity and sovereignty and to also take all necessary actions to put an end to the Sulu claimants’ “fictitious claim”.