Billionaire Ong Beng Seng Is A Tycoon With Connections, Clinched F1 Deal Before CPIB Probe

Ong Beng Seng Is A Malaysian Billionaire Based In Singapore

On 14 July, it was announced that Mr Ong Beng Seng had been issued a notice of arrest concerning the CPIB case involving Transport Minister S Iswaran.

The 77-year-old property tycoon has a stacked portfolio and is recognised as a formidable businessman.

Source: @InsightMV on Twitter

In his decades-long career, Mr Ong Beng Seng has accumulated wealth to the point of becoming a billionaire.

From property to tourism, we look at Mr Ong’s journey as one of Singapore’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Has a combined net worth of S$1.75B with his wife

Mr Ong and his wife, Mrs Christina Ong, have a combined net worth of S$1.75 billion as of 2022 — making them among the richest people in Singapore.

According to Forbes, the power couple is involved in the hotel and retail industry.

While Mr Ong is the Managing Director of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), his wife runs Como Hotels & Resorts.

Source: Dr Tony Tan on Facebook

Mrs Ong also manages the fashion retail company Club 21 and has a controlling stake in Mulberry.

Three years after the pair wedded in 1972, Mr Ong joined Kuo International — an oil trading company owned by his father-in-law, Peter Fu.

It was only in 1980 that he struck out on his own, forming Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) in a bid to acquire a Hilton hotel for S$72 million.

Nassim Jade incident involving Lee family in 1996

By the early 1990s, the property magnate had made his name in the industry.

HPL then controlled four hotels in the Orchard and Tanglin areas, on top of having built several luxury condominiums.

However, with the successes came a controversy in 1996 involving then Senior Minister (SM) Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lee Hsien Loong.

Unbeknownst to the two men, the property developer had given SM Lee a 7% discount for a unit in the Nassim Jade condominium.

Source: Google Maps

Meanwhile, DPM Lee received a 12% discount, reported The Business Times.

When Prime Minister (PM) Goh Chok Tong looked into the case, he found that “there had been no impropriety”.

“They had agreed with the purchase prices, and did not know what prices were quoted to or paid by other purchasers,” he was quoted as saying.

The Straits Times (ST) cited Mr Ong’s response to the issue, where he said:

I did what a businessman would have done. I am a businessman, not a pontificator.

He also asserted that he did not tout the units to the Lees.

Brought Grand Prix to Singapore in 2007 with Government backing

Following the turn of the century, Mr Ong branched out from property — clinching a massive deal in 2007 with Formula One (F1).

TODAY reported that he was one of the three directors of Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

At the time, Mr Iswaran was the Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

Source: S Iswaran on Facebook

He had noted that the upcoming F1 event would reap more than just the predicted S$150 million to S$200 million from tourism.

“There are also intangible benefits like branding and buzz,” Mr Iswaran said.

What value can you assign to Singapore’s skyline, our icons, flashing 50,60 times on the screen to a worldwide audience of 500 million?

TODAY stated that Mr Ong’s company would bear 40% of the cost, while the Singapore Government covered the rest.

Ten years later, Mr Iswaran announced the contract renewal for the F1 Singapore Grand Prix.

Source: @STSportsDesk on Twitter

He said that as a sporting, lifestyle, and business event, the race has “helped boost Singapore’s image as a vibrant and innovative city”.

Additionally, Mr Iswaran stated that F1 brought “significant economic benefits”.

According to ST, it had cost about S$150 million a year to host the event, however, the minister shared that costs have decreased to S$135 million.

Ong Beng Seng & Iswaran crossed paths in Temasek dealings

As it turns out, the F1 dealings was allegedly not the first time the pair had met in a business setting.

Reuters reported in 2007 that Mr Ong “had business ties” with Mr Iswaran when the latter was working at state agency Temasek.

However, it’s not clear what projects the two had worked on.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Mr Iswaran joined Temasek Holdings as a Managing Director.

He took on investments, takeover, buy-out and merger transactions in industries ranging from transport and logistics, to biotech and pharmaceuticals.

Mr Iswaran worked at Temasek in this capacity from 2003 to 2006.

Property tycoon no stranger to politics

Over the years, billionaire tycoon Mr Ong Beng Seng has rubbed shoulders with many in the upper echelons of Singapore society.

His success as a businessman has, no doubt, fostered his connections with politicians and other established entrepreneurs.

Though he has been in the spotlight for his business acumen, Mr Ong has had his fair share of controversies.

As to what role he played in the recent CPIB probe involving Mr Iswaran, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Featured image adapted from @STSportsDesk on Twitter and Twitter.

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