It is not clear if Grübel's abrupt departure at the weekend had anything to do with GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, which in a rare statement last week expressed its "disappointment and concern" at the lapses at the bank, and urged UBS to "take firm action".
The drama at UBS reached a climax in Singapore, where the board of UBS had gathered for a meeting ahead of the GP in the city-state. UBS is a major sponsor of the F1, and the Singapore race is a showcase event. The big UBS signs, lit up brightly by the floodlights, would certainly have been an uncomfortable reminder for Singapore's powers-that-be.
But GIC, as the largest shareholder in UBS with a 6.4 per cent stake, is well within its rights to pull up the Swiss bank, even demand that a CEO be removed. So far, though, GIC has generally preferred to remain a passive investor, even turning down an offer for a board seat at UBS, lest it be seen as exerting undue influence as a state arm.
Now, however, with the UBS experience leaving it red-faced, GIC may be reconsidering its position.
GIC has, unusually, also faced criticism at home over the apparent losses from the UBS investment and for the lack of disclosure of its holdings. GIC is estimated to have lost at least half the value of its over $12bn investment in UBS. GIC also does not disclose the size of its portfolio, which is said to be worth about $300bn.
In response to a letter from a reader in a local paper calling for greater disclosure, GIC said it would be "against national interest" to disclose the extent of its assets, and that it would therefore continue to publish only a 20-year annualised rate of return. It also reports its returns over five- and 10-year periods.
Its mandate, it said, was to "preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of the reserves over the long term. GIC's performance has to be measured on the basis of its overall portfolio rather than by how much it makes or loses on individual investments."
That letter drew 39 responses, with many of those about the need for disclosure and berating the loss on UBS.
Whether GIC will be swayed by public opinion remains to be seen. But its more chatty demeanour comes at a time of growing clout of EM sovereign wealth funds, which are being sought after for everything from rescuing banks to bailing out countries.