PETALING JAYA: The arbitrator who ordered Putrajaya to pay US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) to the self-proclaimed descendants of the last sultan of Sulu is facing criminal charges in Spain.
Citing the Global Arbitration Review (GAR) portal, The Star reported that Gonzalo Stampa was charged with continuing to hear the arbitration of the Sulu case despite a Madrid court’s decision to annul his original appointment as the arbitrator.
Stampa was reported to have been charged with “unqualified professional practice” and could face up to three years’ jail if found guilty.
The GAR portal quoted a Spanish newspaper named “Expansion” as saying 60 arbitration practitioners had condemned the authorities for the charges against Stampa.
Annual payments of RM5,300 to the descendants of the Sulu sultan were discontinued by Malaysia after an armed group landed in Lahad Datu in 2013 to pursue a claim of sovereignty over Sabah.
In February 2022, a French arbitration court presided over by Stampa instructed Putrajaya to pay US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) to the descendants of the last sultan of Sulu.
Stampa ruled that Malaysia had violated the 1878 agreement between the old Sulu kingdom in the Philippines and a representative of the British North Borneo Company that used to administer what is now Sabah.
Malaysia then challenged the arbitration order in France and Spain. A French court granted a stay order on the award, pending a decision on Malaysia’s claim that the order infringed its sovereignty over Sabah.
A Spanish court earlier this year annulled Stampa’s appointment.