World Chess Federation’s Swiss accounts frozen over president’s Syria sanctions


The world chess body said its Swiss accounts have been frozen because its president is subject to US sanctions. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian, has allegedly aided the Syrian regime.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) said Wednesday that its Swiss bank accounts had been frozen because its president is under US sanctions.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been FIDE president for more than two decades. He was hit by US sanctionsin November 2015 for “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria.”

FIDE treasurer Adrian Siegel wrote in a letter published on the chess body’s website that UBS bank “will immediately close our accounts” due to US sanctions.

“Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s problems severely damage FIDE’s business activities and we have to look for a new bank connection,” Siegel wrote, calling the issue a “serious problem.”

Power struggle

The announcement comes amid a power struggle within FIDE ahead of an election for president of the chess body in September.

In March, Ilyumzhinov accused the FIDE of attempting to oust him by falsely announcing his resignation.

Ilyumzhinov denied that the bank accounts were closed.

“No one has blocked the UBS accounts, they are all active, I have checked recently. All events are taking place,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

FIDE said it transferred “any legal, financial and business operations” from Ilyumzhinov to Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos in December 2015.

Ilyumzhinov was given time to get himself removed from the US sanctions list, but “at the moment there is no hint at all that there will be a change,” the letter said.

Ilyumzhinov is an eccentric welathy businessman and former president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia who once claimed to have travelled with aliens in space.

He has poured money into developing Kalmykia into a chess center.

During his 17-year rule of the republic he courted controversy over diverting public resources and clamping down human rights in the name of creating what he called an “economic dictatorship.”

cw/aw (AFP, Reuters)



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