What began as an issue over the bumiputera equity requirement for a Petronas licence involving a Malaysian unit of Aker Solutions ASA, Norway's largest oil services firm, has escalated into claims of judicial fixing that have rocked the legal fraternity.
The last two weeks saw a flurry of developments - the charging of an Aker Solutions manager, the Malaysian Bar expressing concern over alleged misconduct by one of its members - and most intriguing was a police report by the Office of the Chief Justice against a senior lawyer for allegedly bringing the judiciary into disrepute.
The piecemeal developments fell into place when Sarawak Report made public a text message conversation, purportedly between an Aker Solutions representative and someone who is engaged in a legal battle against the Norwegian firm in Malaysia.
The text messages, which Aker Solutions had dismissed as "fabrication", portrayed the representative purportedly suggesting that the firm had engaged lawyers who were able to influence the decisions of the court.
"Aker Solutions has no knowledge of the allegations on the website, nor the alleged text messages. Aker Solutions will report what appears to be fabricated text messages to police authorities.
"The company strongly rejects the suggestion of involvement in inappropriate interference with legal processes," it had said.
In the text messages, the alleged representative advised the litigant to go for a settlement, guaranteeing that their appeal won't succeed as the "path is taken care for us".
The representative claimed that senior lawyer Lim Chee Wee had confirmed with Aker Solutions that "the path is covered until the Chief Justice", as they had sought the help of another senior lawyer, Rosli Dahlan.
The litigant, who appeared sceptical, asked if he was sure and why would Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat risk her reputation for Aker Solutions. To this, the representative replied: "Yes, I promise you."
Both Lim and Rosli have also denied the claims and lodged police reports on the matter.
The conversation did not specify which court case they were discussing but Aker Solutions is known to be engaged in a civil suit with a former employee.
K Seetha, a former legal director with Aker Solutions sued, the oil firm for purportedly stopping her from speaking to investigators. She was subsequently fired in February 2018, according to Reuters.
At the time, the MACC was investigating Aker Solutions for allegedly making false representations in order to secure licences for its Malaysian unit from Petronas.
This culminated with...