Statement of the FIDE Presidential Board on the prize fund for the 1999 World Chess Championship in Las Vegas
"Our attention has been drawn to various rumours and speculations on the Internet and in the news media in respect of the prize fund of the 1999 World Chess Championship in Las Vegas. In particular, the Board regrets the totally false and misleading statement published on Mr. Sam Sloan's web site www.samsloan.com, claiming that some officials of FIDE had embezzled the sum of USD 1,000,000 from the prize fund. For the avoidance of doubt, we acknowledge that various organisational and sponsorship problems created funding difficulties with the prize fund for the World Championship in Las Vegas.
"We can confirm that to date, 92 out of 98 players have received full payment of their prize money and that action has been taken to complete payment of the balance of the prize money of the remaining 6 players, some of whom have received partial payment, prior to 31 December 1999.
"FIDE regrets the inconvenience created by the international funding and various banking issues surrounding this event and thank those affected players for their understanding.
"We remain fully committed to a full resolution of all issues and we look forward to a successful World Championship in the year 2000.
"BY ORDER OF THE BOARD
"Executive Director "
It is also noteworthy that the six who have not been paid are also the biggest prize winners in the event, including Khalifman, who was to have received his winners purse of $482,705, and Akopian who was to receive his second place prize of $396,000 minus 20% to FIDE.
Here is the statement on Sam Sloan's web site to which FIDE is responding, which is posted at http://www.samsloan.com/makstole.htm:
We have all assumed that the fault lies with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
However, I have received a letter today from someone knowledgeable in FIDE affairs who offers a different explanation.
This person claims that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov did pay all the money he was supposed to pay.
However, before the money reached the players, somebody in the middle grabbed some of it.
The finger of accusation has been pointed at George Makropoulos of Greece. My top secret source provides the following:
"Kirsan was generous enough to give the prize fund of 3 million USD. The people in Vegas refused to foot any bill so Makro decided to loot the kitty to pay for the event. Makro worked together with Omuku, Jarrett and Campo (gang of four) to make sure the finances were totally screwed. In all $1.1 million was dispensed from the kitty as "expenses" and the balance given to the early birds (early round losers). The reasoning went like this; since FIDE was supposed to receive 20% of the prize fund USD600,000 they decided on FIDE's behalf to spend it on this event. The other half million went into someone's pocket presumably."
I do not know of course if this is true, but I do know that Makropoulos did not show up in Las Vegas and that Ilyumzhinov was visibly annoyed.
The reasons why I credit this source are as follows: The prize fund was $3,000,000, but under FIDE regulations, 20% of the prizes are paid as a fee to FIDE. This comes out to $600,000 which is the exact amount which allegedly has not been paid to the players.
Omuku told me on the phone that there was a problem with "a check from one of the sponsors".
However, I always understood that there was only one sponsor, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his "World Chess Foundation".
Since Omuku implied that there were other sponsors, perhaps it was true but perhaps that other sponsor did not come up with the money.
Another point is that at the FIDE Presidential Council meeting in Las Vegas, which I attended as a journalist, Willie Iclicki had an argument with Omuku, which I did not report because it seemed to have been resolved. Iclicki complained that salaries to FIDE employees had not been paid. Omuku replied that this problem had been resolved with the holding of the FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas.
I understood and I believe that everyone in the room understood that this meant that the 20% fee for FIDE from the $3 million prize fund would be enough to pay all the back salaries and debts owed by FIDE.
It may be that those who were owed money by FIDE, including Makropoulos, simply grabbed what was owed to them as the prize fund passed through their hands.
One problem with this account is that although Ilyumzhinov did come to Las Vegas and Makropoulos did not come, in Qatar the situation was the reverse. There, Makropoulos did show his face and Ilyumzhinov did not come.
Another problem is that each of the players had 20% deducted from his prize as it was paid, so there should not have been a shortfall.
Here are two comments I have just received from persons knowledgeable in FIDE affairs:
Here is the full text from my secret source:
"By the way, I have some juicy ammunition for you. Please do not quote me it is from some insider.
"Why non-payment for some participants of the World Championship ? The prize fund was deposited into a special account to be dispensed by the biggest crooks in FIDE. They did not disappoint us. Firstly, the directive was for someone to sponsor the cost of staging the event since Kirsan was generous enough to give the prize fund of 3 million USD. The people in Vegas refused to foot any bill so Makro decided to loot the kitty to pay for the event. Makro worked together with Omuku, Jarrett and Campo (gang of four) to make sure the finances were totally screwed. In all $1.1 million was dispensed from the kitty as "expenses" and the balance given to the early birds (early round losers). The reasoning went like this; since FIDE was supposed to receive 20% of the prize fund USD600,000 they decided on FIDE's behalf to spend it on this event. The other half million went into someone's pocket presumably.
"On hearing this fiasco, Kirsan blew his top and did not attend the congress in Qatar. He also refused to talk to the gang of four and the standoff continues. However, the gang of four has accused Kirsan of withholding the 20% and only deposited $2.4 million with FIDE (this appears reasonable unless you think otherwise). If the 20% was really withheld then there is even less prize money distributed.
"Makro has certainly done well this time!!
"Heads will roll, can we assume ??"
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