John Harding’s book, Escape from Paradise – Paperback and Kindle Versions


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Singapore President Tony Tan lost nearly $42 billion dollars of Singapore’s soverign wealth

Singapore President Tony Tan

Singapore President Tony Tan

Tony Tan’s track record at Government of Investment Corporation (GIC) has been a disaster. According to the Wall Street Journal, during his time as Deputy Chairman, GIC lost approximately $42 billion.

In January 2008, just when investors are shorting U.S. banks, Tony Tan spent billions of dollars of Singapore taxpayers’ monies to invest in Citigroup and UBS.

To justify his reckless actions, Tony Tan said in an interview with the Business Times, “In the case of UBS, they have a worldwide global wealth management business which is something not replicable by any bank. Citigroup has an international worldwide consumer business which is also unique.”

At the time, Jim Rogers, a former partner of George Soros in the famed Quantum Fund, said he felt “sad” for Singapore as it would be losing a lot of money.

Rogers continued, “They’re making a big mistake; these banks have many more problems still ahead. They should wait until these companies are really on the ropes a few years from now . . . and trading at $5 a share.”

Rogers also expressed doubts about the capability of GIC’s fund managers, including Tony Tan, “I know these people, and they have never given me the impression that they’re smarter than anyone else…They have gigantic amounts of money, but they’ve made a bad judgment in these cases.”

A few months later, the value of GIC’s shares in Citigroup and UBS crashed after both got mired in toxic debts during the 2008 global financial crisis.

The news was naturally censored by the Singapore media, but the Wall Street Journal reported that GIC suffered a loss around 59 billion Singapore dollars (US$41.6 billion) in 2008, making it one of the worst years for the sovereign wealth fund since it was established in 1981.

Now, Tony Tan is Singapore’s president. Yes, Singapore President Tony Tan.

5 comments to Singapore President Tony Tan lost nearly $42 billion dollars of Singapore’s soverign wealth

  • TNT

    This man is crazy!@#@#
    How can PAP let him spend our money like this?
    in any other org- he will be thrown out!

  • Facts of life

    Oh!
    Is it true?
    Tony offered to use his expertise
    and
    professionalism to help Sin during
    the Presidential Election Campaigns
    He predicted like anybody else that
    the World Economy
    will suffer downturn and Singapore
    will be affected.

    With the Revelation here, it just
    proved that Tony had better
    professionalism and expertise in
    salesman talk than in financial
    matter.

  • Jim

    I think the bomb they received from the deflating net worth of Citibank and UBS was, at least, mitigated by the fact that a lot of other big institutions and sovereign funds were also similarly hit. In this context, this can be used as an escape clause for them. But what is unpardonable is the fact that when the whole mini-bond saga and the intricately mixed matrix of world financial institutions were starting to unravel to show their real financial position, removing the myth surrounding their invincibility, the Singapore Government chose to dispose off Bank of America without looking at the mid term horizon, but going for very short term “gain” (which were, in fact, not gain but mitigating the loss). If they had held it for another year they would have shown tremendous profit. These particular BOA saga where their management staff goofed big time showed that they were inept in playing the financial game on the world stage. Warren Buffet made an astute decision in buying into Goldman Sachs in 2008 and was immediatedly rewarded the next year. GIC bought into a lame duck JP Morgan in the same year.

  • GCW Heng Sr.

    Its rather tragic thata stalwart former Deputy Premier and Strong Leader of the PAP has made such a bad call during the 2008 Economic Downturns in North America largely because of George W Bush’s Failures as President and Global Leader !A lot of people and Insitutions and national Soveeign Funds lost money Singapore perhaps is an exceptional case only in the huge size of its loss ! What is surely lamentable and a tragedy is that such movements of the Sovereign Funds of the Singapore Nation weren’t openly published as a matter of the People’s Right to know, after all its their collective money ! Gerald Heng Sr. Metrowest Boston/Cambridge, MA.USA.

  • Hiko

    He should follow the example of the Japanese leaders to offer to resign and publicly apologise for his mistakes. By the way the older generation of Japanese leaders with the samurai spirit and tradition would have proceeded to commit seppaku. In fact all those people in GIC and Temasek Holdings should also have gracefully done so after hanging their heads in shame. However these shameless lot still deem it fit to stay in their position snugly and draw remuneration when they have failed abjectly.