Panama Papers – it wasn't the RCF President!

by ChessBase
5/28/2016 – We recently reported that a British newspaper had named Russian Chess Federation President Andrey Filatov in connection with the Panama Papers scandal that was rocking the financial world. Hefty rebuttals by the RCF and the threat of legal action were heeded by the Telegraph, which published a retraction: apparently the person mentioned in the company was a completely different Andrey Filatov.

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Chess and the Panama Papers Scandal

We recently reported that British newspapers had reported on the connection between a financial explosion that detonated in recent months – and chess. The Panana Papers scandal emerged out of 11.5 million leaked documents (2.6 terabytes) that detailed financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. The leaked documents were created by Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca; some dated back to the 1970s.

The Guardian linked the late World Champion Bobby Fischer to a Panama-based company just before his death in Iceland in 2008. Coincidentally, Iceland’s embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, became the first major casualty of the Panama Papers scandal, stepping aside from his office amid mounting public outrage that his family had sheltered money offshore.

The Telegraph found Anatoly Karpov, legendary world champion from 1975 to 1985, listed in the leaked files of secret offshore companies as a director of a Cyprus-based. The newspater reported that there was no suggestion of illegality, and Karpov himself previously said that he had nothing to do with business in the offshore zones and called the allegations a mistake.

The Telegraph also said that FIDE Development CEO, Israeli business tycoon David Kaplan, was listed in the Panana Papers in connection with two British Virgin Islands-based companies linked to the FIDE. And finally the newspaper named Russian Chess Federation President Andrey Filatov, "a billionaire oligarch and key ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin" in connection with the Panama scandal.

We received press releases from the Russian Chess Federation denying the connection: "The false information referring to the Mossack Fonseca database has been published in the media without proper verification of its accuracy," they said, and turned the matter over to the international law firm Quinn Emanuel. RCF President Andrey Filatov continued: "As subjects of law, mass media are responsible for the accuracy of their publications, and are not entitled to infringe on anyone's rights or business reputation. The media should act in strict accordance with the law and refrain from informational arbitrariness. Any information that goes to press requires fact checking and a legal sign-off, even that being published in pursuit of the voguish Panamagate sensationalism." He said he intended to use all legal means available to him to defend his rights, interests and business reputation. The Russian Chess Federation warned that any attempt to further disseminate the misleading information would have legal consequences.

Now The Telegraph has corrected their initial report:

Update: An earlier version of this article said that Andrey Filatov, President of the Russian Chess Federation, was a director and shareholder of a company, Telecom Express Ltd, included in the Panama Papers. The Federation has told us that this company is linked with a completely different Andrey Filatov. We are happy to make this clear and apologise for the error.

And the Russian Chess Federation sent out the following release:

Press Release – 27 May 2016

The Telegraph Corrects Error

Representatives of the UK newspaper The Telegraph have confirmed that President of the Russian Chess Federation and Vice-President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Andrey Filatov is not associated with Telecom Ltd Express, a company mentioned in the article Chess Drawn in the Panama Papers Scandal, and apologized for the error.

Earlier the online version of the newspaper published an article containing misleading information concerning the President of the Russian Chess Federation (Chess Drawn in the Panama Papers Scandal). Such information was published with reference to the Mossack Fonseca database. The Telegraph has made appropriate changes to the publication, and noted that «we are happy to clarify the situation and apologize for the error».

Russian Chess Federation President Andrey Filatov thanked The Telegraph for the prompt response. «We are very grateful to London-based journalists for their willingness to cooperate and establish the truth. I am convinced that fact-checking is one of the basic principles of professional journalism», said Andrey Filatov.

The head of the Russian Chess Federation also extended his gratitude to the lawyers of the international law firm Quinn Emanuel, who legally represented the Russian Chess Federation, for their prompt and professional work.


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