SINGAPORE: Aside from political leaders, one man making the news recently is billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng, who was given a notice of arrest earlier this month linked to an investigation involving Transport Minister S Iswaran.
Mr Iswaran is the subject of an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board (CPIB) and was asked by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Jul 12 to take a leave of absence while the probe is ongoing.
And while Mr Ong Beng Seng built his name and fortune as a hotelier, he is best known for bringing the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Singapore.
He is currently out on bail, having posted a S$100,000 bond, and is cooperating with the investigation. In the meantime, he continues as managing director of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), and preparations for the Singapore Grand Prix 2023 are ongoing.
But with interest in Mr Ong Beng Seng heating up due to his connection to what the international media calls the “Most Serious Graft Probe” in 34 years, here’s a quick FYI on the tycoon.
- His wife is independently wealthy. While his net worth is US$1 billion, says the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, together, their combined net worth is reportedly at least US$1.5 billion, making them the 24th richest business persons in Singapore in mid-2022.
Ms Christina Ong, the hotelier’s wife, runs Como Hotels & Resorts, the global fashion website empire Club 21, and the luxury handbag brand Mulberry, which is based in the UK.
In 2022, Forbes called them “one of Singapore’s most influential couples.”
2. The tycoon was instrumental in bringing F1 to the country, the Singapore Grand Prix, in 2008. Moreover, he is the sole shareholder of the event, the first Formula 1 street race in Asia and the first race to be held at night in F1’s history.
F1 night races will be held this year in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Las Vegas, and Singapore.
3. Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong mentions Mr Ong in his book Standing Tall: The Goh Chok Tong Years, Volume 2.
He wrote, “My concern was that Ong Beng Seng, being a shrewd businessman, like all developers, might be using (Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kwan Yew), doing a favor for them, without their knowing it,” in connection to an inquiry about the Nassim Jade flats that Mr Ong’s company had developed and that the Lees bought.
However, Mr Goh added in his book that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had later praised Mr Ong as a “straightforward businessman who should not be punished for the incident.”
4. You’ve likely slept in, or at least stepped into, an HPL property over the years.
Travellers who’ve stayed in Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, COMO Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International, Hard Rock Hotels and Concorde Hotels & Resorts have possibly gone into a property belonging to HPL.
The same goes for diners who have stepped foot in Hard Rock Cafe outlets around Asia.
Or, maybe you’ve visited someone at Four Seasons Park, Tomlinson Heights, the d’Leedon condominiums, Cuscaden Residences, Nassim Jade and The Interlace, or even go shopping at Forum The Shopping Mall and Concorde Shopping Mall, these also belong to HPL.
5. There’s also a Hollywood connection—Planet Hollywood, that is. Mr Ong, along with Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and others, aided with the restructuring of Planet Hollywood, the show-business-themed restaurant in 1999, which started in 1991 with the first eatery invested in and backed by a trio of legendary action stars—Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. /TISG
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