Singapore Arrests Transport Minister and Hotel Tycoon Following Corruption Probe

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Singapore has arrested Transport Minister S. Iswaran and billionaire hotelier Ong Beng Seng as part of a corruption investigation.

Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said on Friday that the minister and the property tycoon were arrested and released on bail. Earlier on Wednesday, there were reports that the Singapore politician was 'assisting' the anti-graft agency with a case it had uncovered.

Ties With Minister Under Lens

Channel News Asia reported that Singapore-based Malaysian tycoon Ong was asked by CPIB to provide information in relation to his interactions with Iswaran. Ong is the owner of Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) and is widely credited with bringing Formula 1 to Singapore.

Singapore city
Singapore city Reuters

"No charges have been filed against Mr Ong. He will be travelling from Jul 14 and will be surrendering his passport to CPIB upon his return to Singapore ... As this is an ongoing matter, he is unable to provide further details at this point. He has undertaken to provide updates to the board if there are subsequent material developments," HPL said, according to CNA.

The company added that Ong will fully cooperate with the anti-corruption agency and that he has posted a bail of S$100,000.

Passport Seized

Meanwhile, CPIB said Ong's passport has been seized as part of the bail conditions. "As part of bail conditions, subjects' passports are impounded ... Subjects on bail can however make requests to travel overseas. CPIB will assess such requests on a case-by-case basis," the anti-graft agency said.

Tainted politician Iswaran has been asked to relinquish the responsibilities of the office by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, according to media reports.

Iswaran was appointed as minister for transport in 2021 but he has been a minister in-charge of trade relations at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI since 2018. He first became a minister in 2006, according to CNA. Iswaran, whose political career spans more than 26 years, was elected in 1997 as a Member of Parliament.

Long-Standing Connection

Iswaran's links with Ong date back to his time at Temasek Holdings, when he developed business ties with Ong. Iswaran was a key player behind Ong's success in bringing Formula 1 to Singapore. "Mr Iswaran has been actively involved in the government's engagements with F1, including making appearances at press conferences where announcements about the event's future have been made," CNA said.