UOB CEO’s daughter buys GCB from ex-Keppel CEO Choo for $39.5 million

A scion of Singapore’s wealthiest banking family, the Wees, has bought a $39.5-million mansion to take advantage of a slowdown in the market for high-end properties.

Bloomberg News reports that Grace Wee Jingsi (the youngest child of United Overseas Bank Chief Executive Officer, Wee Es Cheong) is purchasing the so-called “good class bungalow” at Ford Avenue. The filings were made in March and the property was purchased.

Choo, Chiau Beng is also a part-owner of the house. He was previously CEO of Keppel, an infrastructure giant in Singapore. Choo has also served as Singapore’s nonresident ambassador to Brazil. The records indicate that in 2007, he acquired the home of 1,810 square metres (19,500 square feet) which is more than 19,500 sq. ft.

Singapore’s high end property market had a disappointing 2023 as a result of a major money laundering scam and high interest rates. CBRE Group Inc. estimates that the transactions on the good class bungalows market last year were the lowest in 20 years.

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Even so, this type of property is highly sought after by the ultra rich. The price of the March transaction is almost double that paid for a slightly larger house in the area which sold in 2019 at US$17 million.

This transaction comes as the Wee Family’s US$10,6 billion fortune is being re-distributed after the February passing of their patriarch Wee Chu Yaw. Bloomberg estimates that Grace’s father Ee Cheong was the richest Wee child, with an estimated net worth of US$4.6billion.

Grace, former consultant at Boston Consulting Group and now running a wellness center in Singapore, is like Ee Cheong’s two other children, not actively involved with UOB’s banking business. Grace did not reply to an email request for comment.

Choo led Keppel as its CEO from 2009-2013 when it was still the world’s largest builder for oil rigs. He also headed this unit before he became CEO. A scandal involving illegal payments that Keppel made to officials from Brazil’s state controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA marred Choo’s tenure at Keppel. Choo failed to respond to a LinkedIn request for comments.

The unit finally agreed to pay US$422million to end the US investigation into illegal payments. Keppel’s oil rig business was sold in a major reorganization last year, with the backing of Temasek Holdings. Singapore’s Anti-Corruption Agency announced in the same year a decision to not charge anonymous executives involved in this case citing insufficient proof.

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