News 14 february — 16:14

World chess body accounts closed over president's Syria sanctions

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

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

He denies 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.

A letter from the Lausanne-based FIDE's treasurer, Adrian Siegel, acknowledged the issue was "a serious problem" that had "severely damaged" the organisation's business dealings.

"After more than two years of Kirsan Ilyumzhinow's [sic] presence on the sanction list... UBS has announced that they will immediately close our accounts," the letter published online reads.

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

The letter adds: "We have to look for a new bank connection. In the process of this change we anticipate some problems."

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