Property billionaire served with ‘notice of arrest’ after minister steps aside
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s powerful anti-graft body issued an arrest notice for one of the city-state’s richest people, his company said on Friday, widening an investigation into rare high-level corruption.
Hotel tycoon Ong Beng Seng was given “a notice of arrest and has posted bail”, Hotel Properties Limited said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange.
The billionaire reported to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) on Wednesday and was asked “to provide information in relation to his interactions” with Transport Minister S Iswaran, the company said.
Iswaran was ordered to go on leave earlier in the week by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the CPIB said the minister was “currently assisting” an ongoing investigation — the first involving a senior minister since 1986.
Lee said the anti-graft body had sought his approval for a formal investigation that would involve interviewing Iswaran, among other people.
The CPIB said it could not disclose details as the investigation was still under way.
Hotel Properties Limited, of which Ong is the managing director, said in its filing that the tycoon had posted bail of S$100,000 ($76,000).
The company owns a string of high-end hotels and resorts in locations around Asia and the Pacific.
Ong, a Malaysian who is a Singapore permanent resident, is credited with helping bring the Formula One Grand Prix to Singapore in 2008.
His private company Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board last year renewed the contract to host the F1 race until 2028.
“Mr Ong is cooperating fully with CPIB and has provided the information requested,” the company said.
It added that no charges have been filed against Ong, who was listed by Forbes magazine along with his wife as the 24th richest people in Singapore last year.
Ong, in his late 70s, was allowed to travel abroad from Friday and would surrender his passport to the anti-graft body upon his return, the company said.
Corruption investigations involving cabinet ministers are rare in Singapore, which has ranked consistently in international surveys as among the least corrupt countries in the world.
Source: Bangkok Post