Singaporean billionaire given arrest notice in anti-graft probe involving country’s transport minister

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Billionaire hotelier Ong Beng Seng attends a news conference in Singapore May 11, 2007.

Singapore’s anti-graft agency issued an arrest notice for billionaire Ong Beng Seng as part of its investigation involving transport minister S Iswaran.

Ong, who is managing director of Singapore-listed hotel owner and operator Hotel Properties Limited, has been asked to provide information on his interactions with Iswaran.

In a filing, HPL said no charges have been filed against Ong and that he is fully cooperating with the agency. While he is traveling Friday, the company said Ong will surrender his passport to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau when he returns to Singapore.

The company added that Ong has provided requested information, but is unable to provide further details at this point.

HPL said Ong “continues to be suitable to carry out his duties and responsibilities as managing director,” but will continue to monitor the matter and “re-assess the suitability of the continued appointment of Mr Ong.”

HPL’s portfolio includes 38 hotels and resorts in 15 countries, operating under brands including Four Seasons, Intercontinental Hotels and Marriott International.

Shares of HPL slid as much as 6.7% on Friday, before recovering slightly.

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Earlier this week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asked Iswaran to take a leave of absence after CPIB revealed Iswaran was assisting with an investigation.

In response to queries, the prime minister’s office told CNBC that Iswaran will remain in the country during his leave of absence, and will not have access to any official resources and government buildings.

Ong was credited with bringing Formula 1 to Singapore in 2008. In 2022, his privately owned firm Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board secured the rights to host the Singapore Grand Prix until 2028.

Singapore’s tourism board estimates that since its debut in 2008, the race has generated more than 1.5 billion Singapore dollars ($1.13 billion) in incremental tourism receipts and attracted more than 550,000 unique international visitors.

When the rights extension was announced, Iswaran said the race “continues to be a strong focal point for tourists, global events and business meetings. We have decided to continue hosting the F1 race for another 7 years, after thoroughly evaluating the long term benefits that a term extension could bring to Singapore.”

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