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US imposes sanctions against World Chess Federation chief for support to Syrian government

November 25, 2015, 21:46 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told TASS the sanctions may have been imposed due to the fact that he’s been actively conducting international policy
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Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Fadeichev

WASHINGTON, November 25. /TASS/. The United States imposed sanctions against Russian businessman and President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as well as Russian Financial Alliance Bank and Hudsotrade Limited, a company based in Moscow, for supporting Syrian government, the US Department of the Treasury said in a press release on Wednesday.

"Four individuals and six entities providing support to the Government of Syria pursuant to Executive Order 13582" were added to the sanctions list, among them two Syrians, including Mudalal Khuri, and one Cypriot as well as 4 companies from Syria, Cyprus and Belize.

The report says that one of the Syrians, George Haswani, is a "businessman who serves as a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian regime from ISIL (the Islamic State)." The European Union (EU) added Haswani to its sanctions list in March 2015.

According to the report, "Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was designated for materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, and Batoul Rida," who were earlier included in the US "black lists".

"Ilyumzhinov is a wealthy Russian businessman, former president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, and long-time World Chess Federation president. He is linked to financial transactions involving Khuri-associated companies as early as 1997 and owns or controls the Russian Financial Alliance Bank, along with Khuri. An advisor to Ilyumzhinov, then-President of Kalmykia, was convicted in Russia in 1999 for the murder of an opposition journalist who reportedly was investigating an offshore business registration mechanism in Kalmykia tied to Ilyumzhinov. Russian authorities subsequently closed the offshore business registration mechanism after concluding that it was being used for illegal purposes," the report said.

"Khuri has had a long association with the (President Bashar) Assad regime and represents regime business and financial interests in Russia," the report said, adding that he "owns or controls five of the entities designated today."

Russian Financial Alliance Bank was "designated for being owned or controlled by Khuri and Ilyumzhinov," the report said.

The lender has been operating in Russia for 23 years.

According to 2014 quarterly financials, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov owns a 19% share in the bank.

The sanctions could be tied with the businessman’s involvement in international policy, he told TASS on Wednesday. "I'm linking sanctions to the fact that I’ve been very actively conducting international policy. Particularly, I’ve been to North Korea, Syria, met Bashar Assad several times," Ilyumzhinov said. "I can say that I’m flying to the US on Sunday where I’ll be discussing problems related to world championship match in 2017. I plan to visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York. If the US finance ministry has any questions I’m ready to meet," he said, adding that "Syrian finance ministry may also impose sanctions against me as I also associate with representatives of the United States."

Ilyumzhinov was elected President of the World Chess Federation on November 25, 1995.

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