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FIDE's bank accounts frozen after president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov faces US curbs due to alleged Syrian government links

Athens: The World Chess Federation (FIDE) says its Swiss bank accounts have been frozen because its president — with whom the FIDE secretariat is embroiled in a power struggle — is under US sanctions for alleged dealings with the Syrian government.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian who has headed FIDE for over two decades, was placed under US sanctions in November 2015, accused of aiding the Syrian government.

Ilyumzhinov, a millionaire businessman and ex-politician, has denied the accusations.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov smiles after he was re-elected to head the World Chess Federation at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsoe, Norway, August 11, 2014. Ilyumzhinov, a protegee of Vladimir Putin, who claims to have been abducted by aliens was easily re-elected to head the World Chess Federation on Monday, defeating one of the Russian president's harshest critics. REUTERS/Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/NTB Scanpix (NORWAY - Tags: SPORT CHESS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WILL BE PROVIDED SEPARATELY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. NO COMMERCIAL SALES - GM1EA8B1TT301

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been placed under US sanctions for allegedly aiding the Syrian government. Reuters

"Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov denies the outrageous and false allegations made against him and is not aware that FIDE's bank accounts have been frozen by UBS," his London solicitor Nigel Kushner said in a statement.

"Mr Ilyumzhinov believes that the allegations form part of an ongoing smear campaign related to a power struggle at FIDE in advance of elections taking place this year."

UBS said it could not comment on whether individuals or organisations were clients of the bank.

"We can't comment on whether individuals or organizations are clients of UBS. We follow all laws and regulations that are applicable to us," UBS said.

Last March, Ilyumzhinov accused FIDE of an attempted "revolution" to oust him by falsely announcing his resignation. He said he intended to serve his full term and would decide this year whether to run for re-election in September.

FIDE, whose secretariat is based in Athens, says it transferred presidential powers to Ilyumzhinov's deputy in December 2015 although its website still lists Ilyumzhinov as president.

"The Swiss Bank UBS has announced that they will immediately close our accounts," FIDE's treasurer, Adrian Siegel, said in a 12 February letter posted on its website.

"The white money strategy in Switzerland does not allow to do business with institutions or persons on the sanction list of the US Department of Treasury. Thus, it was only a question of time until we face this serious problem.”

Siegel said FIDE had so far been allowed to keep its accounts because Ilyumzhinov had informed FIDE on several occasions that he would soon be removed from the sanctions list.

Published Date: Feb 15, 2018 13:52 PM | Updated Date: Feb 15, 2018 13:52 PM