Sulu Case: Spanish arbitrator Stampa to face criminal charges on 11 Dec

If found guilty, Stampa faces a jail sentence and fine

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said

KUALA LUMPUR — Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa, who controversially ordered Malaysia to pay US$14.92 billion to self-claimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate, will face charges in the Madrid Court on 11 December. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Madrid Court had carried out their own investigations and filed charges against Stampa and if found guilty, he faces a jail sentence and fine.

“The date for the hearing was set following persistent and aggressive demands by the government of Malaysia. This is not a civil case but Stampa is facing criminal charges.

“This is the main factor that offers consistency in Malaysia’s claim that the award by Stampa as the international arbitrator is an illegal act that is baseless,” she told members of the media via a press conference held online.

Azalina is now in London, to meet lawyers appointed by the Malaysian government to challenge the third phase of the territorial claims by eight Philippine citizens who claim to be the legal heirs of the Sulu Sultanate as well as ensure a comprehensive defeat for the Claimants and their funders.

‘Fraud award’

According to Azalina, the controversial award by Stampa, ordering Malaysia to pay US$14.92 billion is seen as ‘fraud award’ because the High Court of Justice of Madrid which had appointed him as the arbitrator had in June 2021, annulled Stampa’s judicial appointment.

“…but despite the decision, Stampa continued to hear the arbitration case although he lacked the authority to act as an arbitrator and should have immediately put an end to the purported arbitration proceedings.

Stampa then moved his seat of Arbitration to Paris in February 2022 where he made the award against Malaysia.

“That is the reason why for the Malaysian government, the criminal case against Stampa on 11 December is very important because it can annul all the awards by Stampa,” she said.

Azalina added that the Malaysian government will be represented during the proceeding because Malaysia is the complainant.

Claims by heirs of defunct sultanate

A guilty finding will assist Malaysia in its claim that the US$14bil award is unlawful.

Malaysia is in the process of annulling the US$14.9 billion awarded by Stampa to eight individuals who claimed to be the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

On 6 November, the French Court had annulled the order of rising of statue to be mortgaged against a Malaysian Diplomatic building in Paris by a self-claimed Sulu group from the Philippines.

Azalina had said the French Court recorded the withdrawal of claims to seize assets (Malaysia’s Diplomatic Buildings) by the Sulu Group.

“The outcome of the decisions on 6 and 9 November, ends the Sulu claimants’ efforts to seize Malaysia-linked assets throughout the world. They failed attempts to touch on assets that belong to Malaysia, and we will not compromise illegal and baseless claims.

Previously, eight citizens of the Philippines, who claimed to be heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate, had filed for arbitration proceedings in Spain to seek for billions of US dollars from Malaysia over Sabah, and a court in Madrid, Spain had in March 2019 appointed Gonzalo Stampa to be the arbitrator for the Sulu claimants’ case. — Bernama

Read also:
The renaissance of Malaysia’s legal landscape: Azalina’s Visionary Leadership