The Sudanese transitional government is seeking to confiscate assets belonging to Malaysia’s national oil company Petronas, alleging they were acquired through illegal means during the rule of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, sources said.
Following the toppling of al-Bashir, the transitional government passed an act and formed the Empowerment Removal, Anti-Corruption and Money Retrieving Committee (ERC), tasked with reviewing agreements and retrieving assets that were allegedly acquired through illegal means during the previous administration.
While conducting investigations on the former president and his close circle, the committee has, however, also been targeting and accusing foreign investors in Sudan, seizing their assets.
Malaysia’s Petronas has been present in Sudan for more than 20 years and assisted the country in becoming an oil-exporting nation. The United States sanctions on Sudan as a terrorism-sponsoring country had posed significant challenges to foreign companies, including Petronas.
“The aggressive and unfounded allegations by the ERC would be an obstacle for investors to further invest in Sudan in the future,” sources told Daily Sabah on the issue.
According to the sources, to date, no information has been shared with Malaysian authorities regarding the allegations of corruption by al-Bashir involving activities in Malaysia.
The land where the Petronas Sudan Complex (PSC) currently stands was acquired and registered under Nada Properties Co. Ltd. (NPCL), a subsidiary of Petronas in Sudan. However, 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.”
Petronas has strongly objected to the expropriation of its property and criticized the allegations made by the committee. Petronas highlighted that the NPCL is a locally registered company under the Sudanese Companies Law in its appeal to the government, yet the process is still ongoing.
Furthermore, the sources pointed out that other foreign investors in Sudan face similar predicaments, including those from Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey.
They underlined that although the removal of Sudan from the terrorism sponsors list paved the way for further investment in the country, foreign investors that have invested billions of dollars during the previous administration were sidelined.
The sources stated that these include a naval base agreement with Russia as well as an agreement with Turkey on redeveloping Suakin Island, including a port and dock for civilian and military use.