Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

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Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Most powerful man in chess Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is accused of aiding Syrian terrorists

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – 12:04pm

The Swiss bank accounts of the World Chess Federation have been frozen following accusations that its president facilitated transactions on behalf of Islamic State (Isis) mililtants in Syria.

Swiss-based UBS closed the federation’s bank accounts after it failed to depose the chess body’s president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian millionaire and one-time member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, The Times reports.

The US Treasury Department put Ilyumzhinov on a sanction list in 2015 for his alleged involvement in oil deals which “left a financial trail to the terror group Isil via the Syrian government”, The Daily Telegraph says.

Treasurer Adrian Siegel says the international chess body now faces a problem paying its bills. The federation administers the Candidates, a world championship play-off tournament in Berlin, with a prize of $ 460,000 (£331,600).

Ilyumzhinov, who has been head of the Lausanne-based group since 1995, is still listed on the federation website as president. He has not yet commented on Siegel’s statement or the latest turn of events, the BBC says.

In March 2017, Ilyumzhinov was quoted by Russia’s Tass news agency saying that the governing body of international chess competitions was trying to oust him: “I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it’s called a set-up.”

According to Reuters, Ilyumzhinov was re-elected as World Chess Federation president in 2014, defeating former world chess champion Garry Kasparov. 

The most powerful man in chess is also the former head of the Russian semi-autonomous republic of Kalmykia, an oil-rich region on the Caspian coast. No normal politician, Ilyumzhinov believes in aliens. He says he was abducted by aliens in 1997 and returned to Earth after “a trip around a star”.

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