Web Stories Thursday, February 29

WHO IS ONG BENG SENG?

The 77-year-old is the co-founder of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), a publicly listed hospitality group that includes the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Marriott International, as well as Hard Rock Cafe outlets in multiple countries.

In total, the group operates 39 hotels and resorts in 15 countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Italy, the Maldives, South Africa, Thailand and Britain.

Apart from hotels, the group is also involved in property as well as the entertainment and lifestyle industries. 

As HPL’s director, Mr Ong was involved in another political controversy surrounding his “unsolicited” discounts of between 5 per cent and 12 per cent on new condominium apartments in Nassim Jade and Scotts 28 purchased by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his son Lee Hsien Loong, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time and is now the Prime Minister.

In 1996, the Singapore Exchange reprimanded Mr Ong’s company for not disclosing details of discounts given to Dr Lee Suan Yew, a board director who was the brother of Lee Kuan Yew, and to another director’s wife.

The stock exchange said that while HPL did not break any laws, it was not forthcoming in responding to its requests for information.

HPL in July 2023 announced Mr Ong’s involvement in the CPIB probe into a case linked to Transport Minister S Iswaran, who was charged on Jan 18.

As chairman of race promoter Singapore GP, Mr Ong owns the rights to the annual Singapore F1 GP at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and reportedly worked closely with Iswaran, who was Minister of State for Trade and Industry at the time, to launch the first F1 race in the Republic in 2008.

“Over the past decade, we have developed a strong partnership with Mr Ong Beng Seng and his team at Singapore GP, as well as Mr Bernie Ecclestone and Formula 1, to continually enhance the Singapore race and sustain its tourism appeal and economic value,” said Iswaran at the time.

Mr Ong is believed to have had business ties with Iswaran since when the latter was a managing director at Temasek from 2003 to 2006.

In 2022, the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore GP signed a seven-year contract renewal until 2028 — the longest renewal so far, with previous deals ranging between four and five years.

Mr Ong’s spouse is also a high-profile business figure, as Ms Ong runs Como Hotels and Resorts, luxury fashion retailer Club 21 and London-listed handbag maker Mulberry. 

According to Forbes, Mr Ong and his wife had a combined net worth of US$1.75 billion (S$2.31 billion) in 2022. They have two children.

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