Interview With Nigel Freeman, FIDE Treasurer

FIDE Treasurer, Nigel Freeman and Magnus Carlsen at the London Chess Classic

Nigel Freeman for the “One World. One Vision.” Campaign

Four years ago you became FIDE Treasurer, was the work what you expected?

NF: The time I have spent has been much more than expected, I probably have to spend about two hours of my free time most days on FIDE’s business. However, I was lucky in that my predecessor, David Jarrett, who is now FIDE’s Executive Director, left me with the accounts in good order.

Is there anything particular that you think you have achieved in the four years?

NF: I believe that the main achievements are that FIDE now pays its own way and can pay the much higher budgeted amounts to Commissions, for instance, CACDEC budgeted monies are up from EUR 84,000 in 2006 to EUR 200,000 in 2010; that the debts are down with Federations now paying their arrears more speedily than before; and that we try and ensure that no one in the FIDE Commissions has to pay out of their own pockets for work done on FIDE’s behalf.

You are now standing for reelection on Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s ticket, do you have any comments on the elections so far?

NF: The Karpov team strategy has been completely negative, which I find very disappointing. I do not quite understand their strategy, which seems to have been to put everything on winning in the Russian Federation and then when that did not succeed, going to the law courts. They have come up with no concrete plans, just vague assertions, many of which are not backed up with any facts and are highly damaging to the reputation and the finances of the Organisation that they are trying to take over. They obviously do not understand FIDE and how it works and their plans for its future are in no way well thought or costed out. Particularly their plan to have FIDE’s Head Office in Moscow and open offices in Paris and the New York, the tax implications of which have obviously not been taken into account.

Karpov has claimed FIDE is corrupt, what do you have to say about this?

NF: He knows full well that this accusation is unsustainable and when questioned in Sofia was unable to answer, but in their typical mean spirited way, they have not formally withdrawn the claim. Our accounts are probably more open than any other sporting body, they are examined by our own internal Verification Commission and audited by Ernst & Young in Greece and Switzerland.

Karpov claims that EUR 400,000 is missing in 2008, what do you have to say about that?

NF: Because neither he, nor his advisors, appear to understand accounts, it took me quite some time to understand what he is getting at. As it is the only figure near this is the EUR 363,000 that income is higher than expenditure, I assume that is what he is referring to. Of course the amount is not missing, it is in FIDE’s bank accounts and shows prudent management.

He also says that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov did not put much money into chess as he cannot find it in the accounts, do you have any comment on that?

NF: He knows full well that most of the money went directly to the players as quite a large percentage was sent to several of his bank accounts. All FIDE would have in its accounts are the percentages paid to FIDE from various prizes.

Have you any comments on the fact that Karpov claims that too much money is being spent on lawyers fees?

NF: He has quite a nerve to say this as most of these fees were spent on law cases involving his friends or himself and he now seems to be ensuring that this is the case. Until recent events, the most expensive recent case was the Touze and Belfort case. Much to the surprise of most of those attending, especially the Germans and Americans who led the complaints, Karpov stated that he was there the whole time and the organization was as good as the similar event that he attended, though how he could compare the present World Youth events to those of 1969 shows how out of touch he is. So, USCF and DSB, if you vote Karpov, you get Touze! Another example of how out of touch he is that he keeps repeating that our Athens Office is up some mountain in Greece, outside Athens. The FIDE Office is so centrally situated in Athens that it would have been in downtown Athens in Pericles’s time!

The New York Times quoted Kasparov as saying : “The treasurer [of FIDE] is from Bermuda — and you can tell me what normally financial consultants from Bermuda do.” Do you have any comments?

NF: Well, I do not normally describe myself as a Financial Consultant, but in Bermuda, they are well known for giving prudent advice and looking after their clients’ interests. In 2002 Kasparov approached me to assist in a project of his and in the summer of 2003, he felt that the project was likely to be successful and so asked me to come to Moscow at his expense to help finalise it. Unfortunately, the project was not finalised and not only did Kasparov not thank me for assistance, nor respond to any correspondence, he also failed to pay any of the expenses. I certainly know what “normally ex-World Chess Champions of the 80s and 90s from Russia do.”

Do you have any final comments to make on the Elections?

NF: Judging from the number of Federations openly supporting each candidate, it looks likely that Kirsan Iyumzhinov’s ticket will win and Karpov’s campaign does not seem to be progressing far in persuading Federations to support him. Their task was made harder by their comments that small nations should not have the same number of votes as large nations. It is like saying that because I am wealthier or bigger than you, I should have more votes in a democratic election than you. FIDE is made up of Federations, with each having one vote. They do not seem to understand FIDE, nor want to understand FIDE. Their bringing the FIDE Secretariat into matters shows that they fail to understand how FIDE works or David Jarrett. When Karpov’s candidacy was announced, I received an email from Ron Henley addressed to me hoping that the Jamaican (!) Chess Federation would support Karpov’s candidacy. QED!

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