Singapore’s sovereign wealth-fund company Temasek Holdings reportedly lost S$24 billion in its latest financial year report FY2016 dating March 31. The news which saw the investment arm of the country’s CPF retirement funds lost 9.02% was announced only 3 months later on July 7. Temasek Holdings lost S$24 billion to S$242 billion from S$266 billion a year ago.
Temasek Holdings’ CEO, Ho Ching, who is also the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, did not comment on her lacklustre performance but the annual report blamed “volatile markets” for the losses.
Although Ho Ching avoided commenting on the issues, her senior managing director Michael Buchaman deflected responsibility for the losses citing “volatility” and even tell Singaporeans to expect “lower returns”:
“Equity markets around the world will remain susceptible to bouts of volatility in the short to medium term. There is increased uncertainty, partly reflecting the ongoing hangover from the excesses that helped cause the global financial crisis. This suggests an environment of lower returns in the years to come.”
The Central Provident Fund has for the first time delayed the announcement of an expected increase in mandatory minimum sum, which was traditionally due on every 1st of July. Singaporeans are not allowed to withdraw their CPF unless they meet the Minimum Sum, emigrate or when they become deceased. Most Singaporean elderly are unable to retire because of insufficient CPF funds, mainly caused by the low interest generated by the CPF.
It is understood that CPF funds pays interest rates as low as 2.5% to CPF account holders while Temasek Holdings borrowed the funds at the same low interest rates to invest in high returns and lucrative investments. Temasek Holdings will pocket the difference in profits and claimed to return the profits to the national reserve. Nobody knows the amount of national reserves Singapore have, not even the elected President.
Criticisms of the husband and wife duo, Ho Ching and Lee Hsien Loong, of nepotism will result in defamation lawsuits. In 2015, online blogger Roy Ngerng was found guilty of defaming Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a default judgment and was ordered to pay S$150,000.