Swiss bank accounts of world chess body FIDE shut over president’s Syria sanctions

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

The Swiss bank accounts of the world chess federation (FIDE) have been closed after its president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government, according to reports.

Ilyumzhinov was added to a United States Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for “materially assisting and acting for on behalf of” the Bashar al-Assad regime.

However, the Russian has denied the accusations and stepped back from the FIDE to resolve the matter. He even claimed that FIDE was trying to oust him. “I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it’s called a set-up,” he had said.

A letter from the FIDE treasurer, Adrian Siegel, released on Wednesday acknowledged that the organisation’s UBS account had been closed, adding that it has damaged business dealings of the organisation.

The letter said that Ilyumzhinov had told FIDE “on various occasions” that he will be removed from the sanctions list in the near future, which is why the bank allowed the organisation to keep its accounts open, until now.

“It was only a question of time until we face this serious problem,” Siegel was quoted as saying. “We have to look for a new bank connection. In the process of this change we anticipate some problems.”

Ilyumzhinov is yet to comment and is still listed as the president on the FIDE website.

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