US sanctions hit world chess body as UBS shuts down account
A search by FIDE, the world chess federation, for a bank willing to take it on as a client has failed, leaving the global body in financial chaos just as a power struggle rages at its top. UBS, with which FIDE previously banked, terminated its relationship with the organisation at the weekend because of the presence on a US sanctions list of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the chess body’s maverick president and a Russian politician close to Vladimir Putin.
UBS had warned of its likely move in February, and last week, Adrian Siegel, FIDE’s treasurer, wrote to presidents and treasurers at all 189 national chess federations asking them not to send funds to the parent body while a replacement for UBS was sought.
A letter sent on Friday by Nigel Freeman, executive director at FIDE, to Mr Ilyumzhinov and seen by the Financial Times explains that talks have been held with four other Swiss banks over the past fortnight, but none was willing to take on FIDE as a client while Mr Ilyumzhinov remained as president.
Mr Freeman also named 18 banks in Geneva and Lausanne that refused to meet FIDE executives, while talks with Alfa-Bank in Romania and National Bank of Georgia came to nothing.
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