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NUS researchers drop claim of ‘insider trading’ among real estate executives on the golf course

SINGAPORE — Days after the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) took issue with a research paper that said it has found “evidence of insider trading in the land market”, the team of researchers behind the study has dropped the claim.

NUS researchers drop claim of ‘insider trading’ among real estate executives on the golf course
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SINGAPORE — Days after the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) took issue with a research paper that said it had found “evidence of insider trading in the land market”, the team of researchers behind the study has dropped the claim.

The researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) said they could not establish that real estate developers here were engaged in “insider trading” and thus had removed that term in a later version of their research paper, dated Jan 19, 2020.

An earlier version dated July 29, 2019, which was sent to the media, stated that the top managers of Singapore’s real estate developers played golf with each other more frequently after the announcement of a Government Land Sales programme. And their winning bids for the tenders were 14.4 per cent lower than the winning bids put in by those who did not play golf.

In response to TODAY’s queries on the changes, the lead researcher, Professor Sumit Agarwal, said on Wednesday (Jan 22): “Research is dynamic in nature. Scientists go through many iterations of the paper in the research process.

“With this study, we thought we could establish insider trading. This turned out not to be the case, and hence the content on insider trading was removed in subsequent versions.”

He added that the online version of the paper has been updated.

Redas declined to comment on the change. The association had categorically rejected any suggestion that the industry engages in any form of price-fixing, insider trading or collusion.

“We are appalled by the lead researcher’s unsubstantiated assertion and the conclusions drawn by the authors are misleading,” Redas said last Friday.

While the term “insider trading” was removed, the other findings were left unchanged.

The researchers maintained that information on land bidding could be exchanged among these managers during golf sessions, which was then used to make more informed bids to buy land parcels from the Government.

This had negative spillover effects on surrounding properties and led to lower land sale revenues for the Government, the study said.

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real estate golf developer Government Land Sales NUS

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