Big oil company accused of misrepresenting itself to secure a business partnership in Malaysia.
Seetha Kumarasamy, a one-time Malaysian legal director at Norway-based law firm Aker Solutions, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the company misrepresented ownership of one of its units in Malaysia in order to obtain licenses from Petronas. Kumarasamy said in a November court case that Aker Solutions launched a lawsuit against her in 2018 to “suppress evidence and prevent her from speaking out amid a corruption investigation.” While issuing a gag order, Kumarasamy said she was prevented from speaking to anti-corruption investigators about the company’s relationship with Petronas.
Aker Solutions is an engineering company that has been in business since 1841 and was originally known as Aker Kværner until its name was changed in 2008. The company provides services necessary to free energy from natural resources such as oil, gas and wind. Aker is the largest oil company in the region and has a business agreement with the petroleum company Petronas that is at the heart of Kumarasamy’s lawsuit.
Petroliam Nasional Berhad (National Petroleum Limited), better known as Petronas, was founded in 1974 and is owned by the Government of Malaysia. He operates the oil resources in Malaysia. It is one of the largest companies in the world and its mission is to conserve the country’s oil and gas resources. Since its inception, Petronas has expanded its operations to 35 countries, including Norway.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Aker Solutions denied the allegations in a court case in late December, alleging that Kumarasamy had indeed breached a confidentiality agreement that she signed when she assumed the position of director. The issue of confidentiality is at the heart of both party’s filings and the court must decide whether a gag order was issued or whether Kumarasamy violated the original employment contract.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is currently investigating Aker for allegations of false information about ownership of the Malaysian entity. Aker Solutions also said Petronas conducted an audit of Aker Engineering Malaysia Sdn Bhd., The entity in question, after learning of the allegations made. The purpose of this audit was to review the licensing requirements.
The latest lawsuit against the company alleges that Aker has received a court order to confiscate Kumarasamy’s laptop and gain access to her email. The filing satisfies the company’s “actions amounting to abuse of lawsuits and conspiracies,” and was made to silence them.
In response to Kumarasamy, Aker said the lawsuit he filed in 2018 “was aimed at protecting his private information and accused Seetha of disclosing confidential matters to third parties.” The company said it had “briefed Petronas officials on the entity’s ownership and management structure,” adding, “Aker Engineering’s license with Petronas was renewed for three years in July 2018.”
The plaintiff is seeking damages to cover legal costs as well as defamation and psychological and emotional distress. It has claimed to have lost its “reputation and credibility” in the field. The amount of damage was not specified.
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