The Covid pandemic may have forced pay cuts, closures, and mass unemployment, but for some, the economic turmoil of the past year has barely been felt. As the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to grow, Singapore’s richest men and women are sitting pretty on multi-billion dollar fortunes. As to who they are, find out as we count down the 10 richest people in Singapore.
10. Wee Cho Yaw – Net Worth: $5.3 Billion
Kicking off our list is Wee Cho Yaw, the chairman emeritus of Singapore’s third-largest bank, United Overseas Bank. The bank was founded by Wee’s father, Wee Khiang Cheng, in 1935. Wee joined the board of directors in 1958 and assumed the position of managing director two years later. When his father retired in 1974, Wee stepped into his shoes as chairman and CEO. In 2012, Wee stepped down as chairman and in 2018, he retired from his position as director. His son, Wee Ee Chong, now serves as CEO. In recognition of his achievements, Wee has been awarded the Bintang Masyarakat Bakti (Public Service Star) by the Singapore government, along with the Credit Suisse-Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s currently worth an estimated $5.3 billion.
9. Kwee Brothers – Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Next, we have the 4 Kwee brothers, who together control Pontiac Land Group, a luxury real estate developer and hotel owner that owns numerous luxury hotels in Singapore, including Ritz-Carlton Millenia, the Conrad Centennial Singapore, and The Capella Singapore, as well as an array of commercial and retails spaces, including the Millenia Tower and the Centennial Tower. Outside of Singapore, the brothers own a controlling interest in several luxury buildings in New York. Their combined net worth is $5.5 billion.
8. Khoo Family – Net Worth: $6.3B
The Khoo family owes their $6.3 billion net worth to the late Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, a banker and hotel owner who, in his lifetime, ranked as the wealthiest man in Singapore. He made his money as the single largest shareholder in Standard Chartered Bank, which he acquired in the 1980s to prevent a hostile take over from Lloyd’s Bank. He also owned the Goodwood Group of Hotels. When Standard Chartered Bank was sold for $4 billion in 2006, the money was distributed to his heirs.
7. Forrest Li – Net Worth: $7.1 billion
Up next is Forrest Li, a Chinese-born Stanford grad who moved to Singapore a little over 15 years ago. As wargabiz.com notes, when he arrived in Singapore, he was in debt to the tune of $100,000 and could barely scrape together enough money to rent a room in a flat in Braddell. Today, he’s worth $7.1 billion thanks to his online gaming and e-commerce firm Sea, which also dabbles in financial services and e-payments. Li, who was born “Xiaodong” but adopted the name Forrest after the titular character in the film “Forrest Gump,” has been honored on numerous occasions for his achievements, most recently in 2020 when he was named Businessman of the Year at the 35th Singapore Awards.
6. Kwek Leng Beng & family – Net Worth: $8.8 Billion
According to Forbes, Kwek Leng Beng and his family are currently sitting pretty on a net worth of $8.8 billion. Kwek Leng Beng owes most of his wealth to his position as executive chairman of the Hong Leong Group, a diversified company with gross assets of over S$40 billion, and as executive chairman of City Developments, the second-largest property developer in Singapore. His son, Sherman, has served as CEO of City Development since 2018, while his cousin Quek Leng Chan runs a division of Hong Leong in Malaysia.
5. Robert & Philip Ng – Net Worth: $13.2 Billion
The Kwee brothers aren’t the only siblings making a fortune in real estate. Brothers Robert & Philip Ng have made $13.2 billion thanks to Far East Organization, a private landlord and property developer founded by their father Ng Teng Fong in the 1930s. The firm is now the largest of its kind in Singapore. The brothers have also invested heavily in real estate development in Hong Kong and Syndey: their most recent development is the 416 room Fullerton Hotel Sydney in Australia.
4. Eduardo Saverin – Net Worth: $14 Billion
Eduardo Saverin is the co-founder of Facebook. After leaving the company on acrimonious terms in 2009, Saverin relocated to Singapore where he reinvented himself as a venture capitalist. In 2016, he founded venture fund B Capital, an investor in late-stage tech firms that’s so far raised $766 million. The majority of his wealth (which is estimated to be around $14 billion) is derived from the 53 million Facebook shares he still controls.
3. Goh Cheng Liang – Net Worth: $14.8 Billion
Goh Cheng Liang set up his first paint shop in 1955. Shortly after, he became the island’s main distributor for Nippon Paint. In 1974, he plowed the profits he’d made in the paint business into founding Wuthelam Holdings. In 2020, Nippon Paint and Wuthelam Holdings merged in a deal reported by Bloomberg to be worth S$16.7 billion. He’s now believed to worth around $14.8 billion.
2. Li Xiting – Net Worth: $17.8 Billion
In 1991, Li Xiting founded the global medical instrumentation developer, manufacturer, and marketer, Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics. According to Wikipedia, the company grew in size by providing domestic patient monitoring, imaging, and other diagnostic products. It now has 41 subsidiaries, branch offices in 31 countries, 32 branch offices in China, and, since 2008, has been the largest medical device supplier in China. Li, who has something of a reputation for philanthropy, made the news during the Covid pandemic when he contributed $4.6 million worth of medical devices to some of the world’s hardest-hit regions. He’s now worth the considerable fortune of $17.8 billion.
1. Zhang Yong & Shu Ping – Net Worth: $19 Billion
Finally, we come to the richest person in Singapore… or in this case, the richest couple. Zhang Yong & Shu Ping are the husband and wife duo behind Haidilao, a Sichuan hot pot chain famous for its fiery dishes and special services. When Zhang founded the business, he didn’t know anything about cooking. Undeterred and helped along by three friends (one of whom he’d eventually marry), he began an empire that now generates $3.8 billion in sales from 768 restaurants spread across China, Singapore, South Korea, and the US. Yong serves as chairman and CEO of the company; Shu Ping severe as director. Together, they’re worth a combined fortune of $19 billion.