Singapore-based Malaysian billionaire hotelier Ong Beng Seng, who also owns the rights to the Singapore Grand Prix, is reported to be travelling out of Singapore today after posting a $100,000 bail following his arrest notice. He was questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board (CPIB) about his interactions with Singapore Transport Minister S Iswaran, who is also under investigation.
The minister and the billionaire have come under investigation just months before the Formula Grand Prix returns to Singapore on September 15, when practice begins for the grand finale on September 17. The 2023 Singapore Grand Prix will be the second race held under the new agreement signed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and race promoters Singapore GP with the Formula One Group in January 2022. The first was held in October 2022.
Under the new agreement, Singapore will host the race till 2028. This is the fourth contract renewal for Singapore and the longest signed so far. The last four-year contract signed in 2017 expired last year.
Cost per Grand Prix
Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board reportedly paid $35 million per Singapore Grand Prix under the previous contract, reported Front Office Sports.
However, no figures were given for the new agreement.
The Straits Times and Channel reported the new agreement on January 27 last year without disclosing how much it cost.
The Straits Times January 27 report quoted Mr Iswaran. It said:
“Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, said: “Even as we deal with the immediate challenges of the pandemic, it is important that we focus on our recovery and long-term growth. The Singapore F1 race continues to be a strong focal point for tourists, global events and business meetings.
“We have decided to continue hosting the F1 race for another seven years, after thoroughly evaluating the long-term benefits that a term extension could bring to Singapore.
“The renewal will help sustain Singapore’s reputation as a global city with a vibrant lifestyle, attracting international visitors as travel rebounds, and generating business revenue and jobs for Singaporeans.”
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The Straits Times today reporting the arrest notice served on Mr Ong says:
“Mr Ong is known as the man who brought Formula One to Singapore. Race promoter Singapore GP, of which Mr Ong is chairman, foots 40 per cent of the cost of staging the $135 million night race.”
“The Ministry of Trade and Industry and Singapore Tourism Board fund the remaining 60 per cent.”
There has been no official statement yet about why Mr Iswaran and Mr Ong are under investigation. Mr Ong is the founder of Singapore-based Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL), which operates hotels and resorts in various countries under the brands Four Seasons, InterContinental, Marriott, Concorde and Hard Rock.
The Singapore Grand Prix has reportedly generated more than $1.1 billion in tourism receipts, according to event organisers, it was reported last year.
What other countries pay for Grand Prix
Racing News reported last year:
Qatar pays $55 million per year for its contract, the highest amount on the list of contract costs. Others to spend this much include Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan ($55 million each), while China ($50 million), Russia ($50 million), Bahrain ($45 million) and Abu Dhabi ($40 million) also pay a sizeable amount of money.
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