Singapore issues arrest notice for billionaire Ong in graft probe

Ong Beng Seng’s company says the billionaire is cooperating with authorities in rare high-profile investigation.

Property tycoon Ong Beng Seng is one of Singapore's wealthiest individuals [File: Vivek Prakash/Reuters]

Singapore’s anti-graft agency has issued an arrest notice for one of the city-state’s wealthiest men over his dealings with a government minister.

Ong Beng Seng, a property tycoon and hotelier known for bringing Formula One to Singapore, is cooperating with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in a probe involving transport minister S Iswaran, Ong’s company said on Friday.

Singapore-listed Hotel Properties said no charges had been laid against Ong and that the billionaire tycoon would surrender his passport to the CPIB upon returning to Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this week said he had ordered Iswaran to take a leave of absence pending the completion of the probe.

The CPIB announced earlier this week that Iswaran was assisting with an investigation. The anticorruption agency did not provide details on the nature of the probe.

The probe marks the first anticorruption investigation involving a cabinet minister in Singapore since the 1980s.

Singapore touts clean governance as one of its major selling points as a business hub. The Southeast Asian country ranked as the fifth least corrupt country in 2022, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Ong, who was born into a wealthy Malaysian family, made his fortune in shipping insurance in the early 1970s, before moving into oil trading, property and hotels.

The 79-year-old tycoon presides over more than three dozen hotels and resorts, including the Four Seasons and Hard Rock Hotels. In 2008, he played a major role in bringing the annual Formula One night racing competition to the city.

Last year, Forbes named Ong and his wife Christina as the 24th richest people in Singapore.

Source: News Agencies