Petronas seeks World Bank unit ICSID's arbitration on Sudan land, property dispute

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 7): Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) claimed on Thursday that its rights over the land and Petronas Complex in Khartoum, Sudan were obtained in accordance with rightful applicable laws.

Petronas added that it has filed a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on the matter. ICSID is a unit under the World Bank Group.

Petronas said in a statement on Thursday the company has been jointly working with Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to exercise all diplomatic channels with the authorities in Sudan to amicably resolve the issue.

"As there has been no positive development thus far, Petronas has filed a request for arbitration at the ICSID on the matter.

"As the legal process has commenced, Petronas is unable to provide further information on this matter,” Petronas said.

Petronas’ statement was in response to reporters’ emailed request for confirmation on the Sudan land and property dispute and their queries on how Petronas is responding to allegations in news reports that the assets were acquired through illegal means during the rule of ousted leader President Omar al-Bashir.

Daily Sabah, quoting sources, reported on Oct 5 that Petronas had strongly objected to the Sudan transitional government's move to confiscate the company’s assets in the African nation on allegations the assets were acquired through illegal means during al-Bashir’s rule.

It was reported that the land where the Petronas Complex currently stands was acquired and registered under Nada Properties Co Ltd (NPCL), a subsidiary of Petronas in Sudan.

According to the news report, the sources underlined that Sudan transferred the ownership of NPCL to Sudan's Ministry of Finance and “deprived Petronas of its rightful ownership of the company”.

It was reported that following the toppling of al-Bashir, Sudan's transitional government passed an Act, and formed the Empowerment Removal, Anti-Corruption and Money Retrieving Committee tasked with reviewing agreements and retrieving assets that were allegedly acquired through illegal means during the previous administration.

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