From ‘Facebook co-founder gives up US citizenship’, 13 May 2012, article in Sunday Times
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin officially ‘defriended’ the United States last September, giving up his citizenship for the more tax-friendly residency status of Singapore. It is not known if the soon-to-be billionaire has taken up Singapore citizenship.
…Born in Brazil, Mr Saverin moved to the US in 1992 and became a citizen in 1998. In 2009, he relocated to Singapore. Explaining that decision, he told The Straits Times: ‘I got out of Changi Airport and was amazed by the line of trees and saw how clean and green Singapore was. Then I discovered the various entrepreneur programmes and the long list of government funding available for start-ups. I decided I must live here.’
Among his investments in Singapore is Anideo, a technology start-up that has created at least 10 applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Last year, he also invested in Perx (www.getperx.com) a customer loyalty mobile app which has signed up big brands such as Popeyes and Dunkin Donuts.
…Mr Saverin, who likes chilli crab, has kept a low public profile, although he is a much sought-after speaker at entrepreneurship seminars in Singapore. He has also put money into two start-ups in the US – multimedia Web search service Qwiki, and online payment technology firm Jumio.
So where in Singapore is Eduardo Saverin? According to other sources, one of the world’s richest 30-something is living it up in exclusive clubs like Filter, hobnobbing with the elite and supermodels in his luxury penthouse, drives a Bentley, and is a sponsor for ex Miss Singapore Rachel Kum’s cosmetics line Rachel K, all elements of a typical billionaire-tycoon playboy lifestyle that the ST has chosen to omit, instead giving us the impression that he may be found tucking into chilli crab at Long Beach seafood, maybe hanging out with the local uncles drinking Tiger beer in a pair of flip-flops.
If you’re not the sort who clubs at fancy parties or don’t even own a dinner jacket or appreciate fast cars and champagne, you may want to hang around the Sail@Marina Bay if want to catch a glimpse of Saverin. According to the New Straits Times, Saverin has reportedly been dwelling in the ‘tallest residential building’ in Singapore. Put two and two together from this pitch to expats and you’ve got Mr Popularity’s address. In 2008, Indian billionaire turned Singapore citizen Dr Bhupendra Kumar Modi bought a Sail penthouse unit for $15 million, which netted the seller, another Indian-turned-Singaporean tycoon Dr Sudhir Gupta a $6 million profit. Treating property like trading cards is common practice among the ultra-rich, while many of our own locals struggle to even maintain one, and can only gaze up at this steel mega-tycoon playground complex in awe, waiting for them to excrete some small change as we pander to them like gods. We used to fly kites at Marina Bay, now it’s a Beverly Hills-like showcase for high-flying foreigners. Dr Modi did live in the ACTUAL Beverly Hills, in fact.
Saverin isn’t the only foreigner renouncing a US citizenship to make Singapore his home. Investment guru Jim Rogers moved here in 2007 so that his children could learn Chinese. Gongfu superstar Jet Li has done it too, having given the Americans films like THE ONE and ROMEO MUST DIE, is now residing in a $20 million bungalow in Bukit Timah, and is officially a Singapore citizen as of 2011, despite not working his chops in the movie scene here. Neither has anyone heard from Gong Li since her conversion and subsequent divorce either. We’re known to warm up easily to rich foreigners (some people would call that rich-people poaching), despite the fact that Saverin has left America for good and can easily do the same to Singapore if things don’t go down well as planned with the start-ups that he’s busy funding. Unlike other billionaires who have made it big in Singapore, Saverin is somewhat special. He’s young, Brazilian, fresh-faced, has an interesting job, co-owns Facebook for God’s sake, and may be perceived as an eligible bachelor, though his marital status remains unknown (Rachel Kum insists that they’re good friends who club at Butter Factory once in a while). The words ‘tycoon’ and ‘magnate’ which summon images of grey-haired paunchy men doesn’t apply. Saverin is too cool for that, or even descriptions that end with ‘-preneur’. Years from now, our kids will think of Saverin when quizzed about famous tech-wizards from Singapore. No one will remember who Sim Wong Hoo is.
Some Americans feel cheated and betrayed by Saverin’s seeming ‘tax evasion’, that he ‘owes’ America for being where he is today. This billionaire ‘tax dodger’ has 1.4 million ‘subscribers’ on Facebook currently, the same number of people Jesus Christ would have if he had Facebook then. They’re probably many more ‘friends’ in line waiting, like peasants in a king’s court grovelling for a new fence to keep the goats from escaping. If you want to have a foreigner friend in high places (literally) like Saverin, it would also be worthwhile checking out a library book on Meterology, a topic that Saverin is a self-professed fan of. To say his rise is ‘meteoric’ is an understatement, and like a ‘hurricane’ he has swept Singapore off her maiden feet. Let’s just hope he doesn’t change his mind about us like the ‘weather’. Someone once described Singapore as ‘Disneyland with the Death Penalty‘. I think we all know who’s living in Snow White’s castle then.
And yeah I’ll be in a whole new tax bracket/ We in recession, but let me take a crack at it/I’ll probably take whatever’s left and just split it up/ So everybody that I love can have a couple bucks – ‘Billionaire’, Bruno Mars/Travie McCoy
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