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Dutch court rules Sulu sultan heirs cannot seize Malaysian assets

A Dutch Court of Appeal dismissed a bid by eight descendants of a former sultanate to enforce a US$15-billion arbitration award they had won against the government of Malaysia, a judgment released on the court website Tuesday showed.

"The court dismisses the requests of the Filipino nationals" to demand to execute the arbitration award, the judgment said.

Last year, the Filipino heirs to the last sultan of the remote Philippine region of Sulu were awarded US$14.9 billion by a Paris arbitration court in a long-running dispute with Malaysia over a colonial-era land deal.

They have since sought to seize Malaysian government assets in France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in a bid to enforce the award.

Malaysia, which did not participate in the arbitration, maintains the process is illegal and has vowed to fight the seizures. It obtained a stay on the award in France, but the ruling remains enforceable overseas under a UN treaty on arbitration.

The heirs in September had sought permission from a Dutch court to enforce the award in the Netherlands, Reuters reported.

However, Dutch judges sided with Malaysia and said that the original agreement did not have a clause that bound parties to arbitration and the French stay of the award meant the claim was not enforceable in the Netherlands.

- Reuters