Peeking into the Wealth of Ong Beng Seng, the Singapore Billionaire Allegedly Involved in a Corruption Case

Ong Beng Seng, the Singapore Billionaire
billionaire illustration (Image:Freepik)
The most significant corruption investigation in Singapore since the 1980s has ensnared a billionaire known for bringing the Formula One race to Singapore.

According to Time, this is the second controversy for property tycoon and hospitality entrepreneur Ong Beng Seng (77). He has received an arrest warrant related to an investigation involving Transport Minister S. Iswaran.

So, who is Ong Beng Seng? What is his net worth?

Ong Beng Seng is also the Executive Director of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) and is known for bringing the Formula One race to Singapore in 2008. He has an estimated wealth of around 1 billion Singapore dollars or approximately $733 million (assuming an exchange rate of 1 SGD = 0.733 USD, based on Bloomberg Billionaires Index).

However, according to Forbes, Ong Beng Seng and his wife Christina Ong had a combined net worth of $1.75 billion or approximately 26.2 trillion Indonesian rupiahs (assuming an exchange rate of 14,972 IDR per USD) in September 2022. In 2022, Ong Beng Seng and his wife ranked 24th among the 50 wealthiest people in Singapore.

What is Ong Beng Seng's involvement in the implicated case?

Businessman Ong Beng Seng was requested for clarification by Singapore's anti-corruption bureau regarding his relationship with Iswaran, according to HPL's disclosure.

The tycoon posted a bail of SGD 100,000 and is cooperating with the investigation. He will continue his duties as the Executive Director of HPL, as per the disclosure.

Ong's Singapore GP Pte and the country's tourism agency received an extension in 2022 to host the race until 2028. Iswaran was praised for playing a key role in securing the city as the host of the Grand Prix.

What are Ong Beng Seng's businesses?

Hotel Properties owns Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in the Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore. The company is also involved in the development of luxury condominiums such as Burlington Gate in Mayfair, London, and Nassim Jade in Singapore.

Last year, a consortium led by Ong and Temasek Holdings Pte won the bid to purchase property assets. In 2003, Ong and tycoon Oei Hong Leong were involved in a dispute over the NatSteel Ltd steel plant.

In 1999, Ong, along with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and others, helped finance the restructuring of Planet Hollywood International Inc. The network operated around 80 film-themed restaurants, promoted by and partly owned by Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other stars.

HPL Shares Decline

According to The Straits Times, shares of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) slid 6% on Friday morning, July 14, 2023, after the company confirmed the arrest warrant for Executive Director Ong Beng Seng.

HPL's shares closed down 2.59% at SGD 3.76. The shares opened 7% lower at SGD 3.6 and briefly rose to SGD 3.78.

According to the disclosure to the Singapore Stock Exchange, HPL stated that Ong Beng Seng is assisting the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in its investigation related to the involvement of Transport Minister S. Iswaran. No charges have been filed against Ong Beng Seng, who was released on SGD 100,000 bail.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Iswaran would take leave until the investigation is completed. "This is a spontaneous reaction to the arrest warrant for Ong," said a stockbroker as the HPL stock price fell.

A Glimpse into HPL

As the Executive Director, Ong Beng Seng is responsible for all aspects of strategic planning and business development activities of the HPL group. He also holds a 60.47% stake in HPL as of June.

HPL's core business comprises a portfolio of 38 hotels and resorts in 15 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu, the United States, Bhutan, Tanzania, South Africa, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Sri Lanka.

HPL operates hotels under prestigious hospitality brands such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Como Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels, Six Senses Hotels and Resorts, and Marriott International.

Additionally, the group manages its own hotel portfolio under brands such as Hard Rock Hotels and Concorde Hotels & Resorts.

In Singapore, their luxury residential developments include Tomlinson Heights, Robertson Blue, Cuscaden Residences, and Four Seasons Park, as well as joint ventures with CapitaLand, such as The Interlace and d'Leedon condominiums.

The group also owns commercial and retail properties such as Forum the Shopping Mall and Concorde Shopping Mall.

In London, the group has joint ventures in projects including Burlington Gate, Holland Park Villas, Paddington Square, and Bankside Yards.

HPL also operates Hard Rock Café outlets in several Southeast Asian countries. The company was incorporated as a private limited company in 1980 and acquired the Hilton hotel for SGD 72 million. In 1982, it was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

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