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CAS confirms the two-year ban imposed on Ignatius Leong

casOn 10 November 2016, the CAS dismissed the appeal filed by Ignatius Leong against the decision of the FIDE Ethics Commission which found Mr Leong and Mr Kasparov guilty of breaching Article 2.1 of the FIDE Code of Ethics and banned both of them for a period of two years from holding any office or position within FIDE, including its member federations, continental associations and other affiliated international organisations, as well as from participating in any FIDE meeting.

The CAS held that Mr Leong “was committed to voting for Garry Kasparov. He sold his vote. There can be no finessing that conclusion no matter how indulgent an interpretation is taken of the Agreement” (§ 53 of the judgement).

The CAS further held as follows: “[Ignatius Leong] sold his vote to Garry Kasparov, and while he did not take personal benefit, clause 4 of the Agreement sets up the indirect benefit for him through the funding of ACA [Asean Chess Academy]. What is most peculiar, and strongly indicative of a “sold vote” is that the funding of ACA was not contingent on the outcome of the election, but that monies were funneled through beforehand. No matter what one might say about promises of future largesse after a successful election (which in popular parlance might be described as Pork Barrel Politics), insofar as they are made known to a wide cross-section of voters, no possible legitimate purpose could be served by a confidential agreement providing for prior payment of monies to a corporate vehicle controlled by one elector” (§ 54).

The CAS noted that the publication of the agreement was prompted by the leak of the draft document, and not by “any demonstration of disinterested or unencumbered enthusiasm for the development of chess in East Asia” (§ 56).

Having found Mr Leong guilty of violating the FIDE Code of Ethics on his own version of selling the vote of the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) without the knowledge of the SCF’s Board, the CAS did not examine in detail the other violations committed by Mr Leong.

The CAS finally dismissed Mr Leong’s conspiracy theories as to an alleged darker political purpose behind the leaking of the draft document: “In no sense do they absolve responsibility for what [Mr Leong] undertook in the Agreement, and simply cast him in an unfavourable light as someone looking to deflect attention from having been found out” (§ 56).

Mr Leong was ordered to pay all costs of the arbitration and to pay a contribution of CHF 5,000 towards FIDE legal costs.

FIDE welcomes the award issued by the CAS, which fully confirms the decision rendered by the FIDE Ethics Commission against Mr Leong and Mr Kasparov.

FIDE takes this opportunity to reaffirm its clear stance against corruption and bribery and to commit to continue its efforts to promote good governance. FIDE fully supports and reiterates its trust in its Ethics Commission.

Mr Kasparov did not appeal against the decision of the FIDE Ethics Commission.

Mr Leong and Mr Kasparov will remain suspended until 20 October 2017.

Decision of CAS in Ignatius Leong v. FIDE case (pdf)

The Court of Arbitration for Sports rules that:

1. The appeal filed by Mr. Ignatius Leong against the World Chess Federation with respect to the decision of the FIDE Ethics Commission dated 5 September is dismissed.

2. The decision of the FIDE Ethics Commission dated 5 September is upheld.

3. The costs of the arbitration, to be determined and served to the parties by the CAS Court Office, shall be borne by Mr. Ignatius Leong.

4. Mr. Ignatius Leong is ordered to pay the World Chess Federation a total amount of CHF 5,000 as a contribution towards the expenses incurred in connection with these arbitration proceedings.

5. All other motions or prayers for relief are dismissed.

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