Singapore's sovereign wealth fund regrets investment in crypto-villain FTX

No fault found, but execs responsible punished with reduced compensation

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, Temasek, has taken the unusual step of announcing its disappointment with a particular investment, and punishing those responsible for it.

Temasek is one of the world's biggest investors, and manages a portfolio valued at around $300 billion. The company has invested in plenty of tech startups, and giants. In 2016 we spotted it buying 18,181,818 shares – a very lucky number in Chinese numerology – in Dell's holding company Denali as part of the takeover of EMC.

It also took a position in disgraced and collapsed crypto exchange FTX – the subject of the unusual Chairman's Statement published on Monday.

"While there are inherent risks whenever we invest, we believe that we have to invest in new sectors and emerging technologies to understand how these areas may impact the business and financial models of our existing portfolio, and whether they would be drivers of future value in an ever-changing world," wrote chairman Lim Boon Heng. "This is why we invest into early stage companies."

"With FTX, as alleged by prosecutors and as admitted by key executives at FTX and its affiliates, there was fraudulent conduct intentionally hidden from investors, including Temasek," he added.

"Nevertheless, we are disappointed with the outcome of our investment, and the negative impact on our reputation."

So disappointed, indeed, that the organization assembled an independent team to conduct an internal review, which was recently delivered to Temasek's Risk & Sustainability Committee, and to its board.

"Although there was no misconduct by the investment team in reaching their investment recommendation, the investment team and senior management, who are ultimately responsible for investment decisions made, took collective accountability and had their compensation reduced," the chair stated.

That's a very public and unusual admission of error – even more dramatic, given that Temasek believes it was lied to by FTX.

Some unfortunate Temasek staffers therefore join the long list of people who will suffer from the crypto exchange's deceit and collapse. But it appears the folk who were fooled have at least kept their jobs – hopefully wiser for the experience given Temasek's charter obligation of "building people, building communities, building capabilities and rebuilding lives in Singapore and beyond." ®

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