World chess body accounts closed over president’s Syria sanctions

The World Chess Federation 9 FIDE) says its Swiss bank accounts have been closed after its president was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government.

Russian millionaire Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for his alleged dealings with the Assad government.

He denied any wrongdoing, and stepped back from FIDE to try to resolve the issue. But FIDE says Swiss bank UBS closed its accounts as he is still sanctioned.

“After more than two years of Kirsan Ilyumzhinow’s presence on the sanctions list… UBS has announced that they will immediately close our accounts,” said a letter published online.

“It was only a question of time until we face this serious problem.”

The letter also added: “We have to look for a new bank connection. In the process of this change we anticipate some problems.”

Mr Ilyumzhinov is yet to comment on the FIDE’s letter. He is still listed as the organisation’s president on its website.

In March 2017, he was quoted by Russian media as saying that FIDE was trying to “oust” him after a statement on its website said he had resigned.

“I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it’s called a set-up,” Ilyumzhinov said.

Mr Ilyumzhinov is a former businessman and politician who has long been viewed as an eccentric character.

Photo Credit- BBC World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

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