Hotel tycoon issued notice of arrest over graft probe involving Singapore minister

S. Iswaran (left) with Ong Beng Seng (right) and Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive of Formula One, in October 2022. - S ISWARAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Malaysian hotelier Ong Beng Seng has been issued a notice of arrest by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and is cooperating with the anti-graft body to provide information in relation to his interactions with Transport Minister S. Iswaran.

Hotel Properties (HPL) said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange at 7.30am on Friday (July 14) that no charges have been filed against Ong, 77, who is the founder and managing director of the company.

“He will be travelling from July 14 and will be surrendering his passport to CPIB upon his return to Singapore. He has been given a notice of arrest and has posted bail of $100,000,” the statement read.

The tycoon was seen leaving CPIB’s headquarters on Wednesday after CPIB announced that Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, is assisting with investigations into a case it uncovered. It did not give details on the nature of the investigation.

HPL said Ong is cooperating with the CPIB and has provided the information requested.

“As this is an ongoing matter, he is unable to provide further details at this point. He has undertaken to provide updates to the Board if there are subsequent material developments,” the company said.

HPL added that Ong will continue his duties and responsibilities as managing director in the meantime after the nominating committee determined that he is suitable to do so.

“The board and the nominating committee will continue to monitor the progress of the matter and the nominating committee will continue to re-assess the suitability of the continued appointment of Ong,” the company said.

Iswaran, 61, has been instructed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to take a leave of absence until the investigation is completed, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday. He will remain in Singapore during this period and will have no access to any official resources and government buildings.

Ong is known as the man who brought Formula One to Singapore. Race promoter Singapore GP, of which 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.

The contract for Singapore to continue hosting Formula One for another seven years was signed in 2022. This is the fourth renewal and the longest extension so far.

HPL owns the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Singapore, among other properties in Canada, Australia, Britain and the United States. It was also part of a consortium – along with state-owned investment firm Temasek – that in May 2022 bought the real estate assets of Singapore Press Holdings.

Shares of HPL tumbled 5.4 per cent to $3.65 when trading opened on the Singapore Exchange on Friday.

This story is developing.

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Singapore , Iswaran , Ong Beng Seng , graft , arrest


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