Leaked Agreement Between Ilyumzhinov & Paulson Suggests Conflict of Interest

Chess.com has obtained a document that suggests that Agon, Andrew Paulson’s company that holds the rights to organize chess events in the World Championship cycle, is secretly run by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself. According to the contract, which is signed by both the FIDE President and Mr Paulson, it is Mr Ilyumzhinov who owns 51% of the shares. Both Mr Ilyumzhinov and Mr Paulson deny that the contract is in effect, but according to Malcolm Pein, Mr Paulson “has said on at least two occasions that Kirsan is the majority shareholder.”

Note: Chess.com can neither confirm nor deny that the “logistics” and “operating procedures” listed in the contract below have been in practice for the last couple years. However, it has been confirmed by Andrew Paulson, among other sources, that the documents are valid (meaning they exist). Whereas one source (Mr Pein) told Chess.com that Mr Paulson stated the opposite in at least two conversations, it should be noted that the contract is currently being claimed (by Mr. Paulson among other FIDE representatives) as an “early draft” of the possible agreement between FIDE and Agon – and not something that has been in place.

About two years ago Andrew Paulson (55), a successful American entrepreneur working in Russia, entered the chess scene. His company Agon obtained the rights to organize, for the next 11 years, all events in the World Championship cycle: Grand Prixs, World Cups, Candidates Tournaments and World Championship matches. It seemed that, even though he had zero experience in chess, he was willing to invest a lot of money in the royal game.

In March 2012 ambitious plans were revealed. A 4-year schedule for two World Championship cycles was announced, with Grand Prix events planned for 2013 to be held in Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. “In the future we will be progressing continent by continent, bringing great competitions to the world’s capitals in a regular and predictable schedule,” said Mr Paulson back then.

The first tournament organized by Agon was the first Grand Prix in the 2012-2013 cycle, held in London in September 2012. Mr Paulson was not involved in the next two Grand Prixs, but he did organize the London Candidates’ Tournament in March 2013. After that, the chess world didn’t hear much from Agon. The company had no presence at subsequent Grand Prixs, the Tromsø World Cup nor the Chennai World Championship match.

All this seemed to be a money issue. Mr Paulson has stated that he used personal money for the London Grand Prix, while the London Candidates’ were paid by The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). Around that time it became clear that Agon had not paid FIDE the agreed deposit fee of $500,000 which was due for April 2012. Agon still hasn’t paid this fee as of today.

Leaked contract

Chess.com obtained scans of a contract, stipulated in Russian, concerning Agon. The undated contract, which mentions a “model for cooperation” between Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Andrew Paulson and which was written on paper with Agon’s letterhead, was created in January 2012. And, it has the signatures of both Mr Ilyumzhinov and Mr Paulson.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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