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Clarify need for forensic audit, act against person(s) if found guilty: Chess Players Forum official to AICF (Ld)

19 Feb, 2024 18:30 IST|Sakshi Post

Chennai, Feb 19 (IANS) The All India Chess Federation (AICF) should openly state the reasons for its decision to have a forensic audit of its books of accounts, said a senior official of the Chess Players Forum.

He also said that several tournaments are not being held this year and the reasons are unknown.

"The chess body should tell transparently why it thinks a forensic audit is necessary and what is the financial irregularity that needs to be probed," International Master (IM) V. Saravanan, Joint Secretary of the Chess Players Forum, told IANS.

He said the allegations should be properly spelt out, and severe action should be taken against the guilty person(s) if the allegations turn out to be true, Saravanan said.

“The affairs of the AICF are in a sorry state,” Saravanan added.

According to AICF’s Interim Secretary Ajeet Kumar Verma, the chess body plans to conduct a forensic audit of its accounts by hiring an external auditor as some of the papers are reportedly missing from its office.

"We found some of the papers and inventories missing from the AICF office. It was decided to appoint an external auditor to audit the accounts. If need be, forensic audit will also be carried out. The proposed audit will also check the payments made to various people," Verma told IANS.

The decision to appoint another audit firm was taken at the AICF's urgent General Body meeting held on December 28 in Guwahati. The meeting was called to discuss matters relating to the officer-bearers' election, the financial health of the AICF, various court cases, formation of a legal committee and appointment of the law firm Prout Solicitors LLP.

Verma said the AICF accounts were audited by ARSAN & Co.

Meanwhile, Saravanan said the infighting and other developments in the AICF took the players by surprise and also shocked them.

Just three years ago, new office-bearers were elected to AICF and now there is severe infighting at a time when five players - three in the open category and two in the women’s section - will be competing in the Candidates Tournament to be held in Canada, Saravanan said.

The winner of the Candidates Tournament will challenge the world champion for the world title.

Meanwhile, former AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan claimed that some people are trying to tarnish his image.

"I was the Secretary of the AICF till August 15 (2022) and all accounts of the Federation are clean and were passed at the Annual General Meeting," Chauhan told IANS.

In a communication to various chess officials at the General Body meeting held in Guwahati, Chauhan said all the accounts of the AICF are clean and were passed at the annual general meeting.

The accounts were duly audited by the official auditor who happens to be the auditor of Federation President Sanjay Kapoor.

He said for the Chess Olympiad that was held in Chennai, there was a five-member committee formed at the annual general meeting to oversee all processes of tendering and payments.

"I was nowhere part of spending or allotting tender to anyone," Chauhan said.

Several chess players had told IANS that the AICF’s funds are contributed by the players under different heads and the government also gives various grants.

The players said the administrators are fighting legal cases to settle personal scores with the funds contributed by the players and others, instead of spending them for the development of the game and the players.

According to the AICF's annual accounts, it had spent a whopping Rs 79.91 lakh as legal expenses in FY23, up from Rs 50,52,450 in FY22 and Rs 18,20,300 spent in FY21.

In FY20, the Indian chess body had spent Rs 20,60,050 as legal expenses. For the current fiscal (2023-24), AICF has budgeted Rs 50 lakh as legal expenses.

Curiously, when asked for the break-up of the legal expenses incurred by it under the Right to Information Act, the AICF had said the records had been 'damaged/destroyed' by pests.

This information is gleaned from an order of Central Information Commission (CIC) on an appeal filed by chess player Gurpreet Pal Singh.

The AICF had earlier told the Competition Commission that its records were destroyed by the Chennai floods in 2015, Singh had told IANS earlier.

“Legal expenses of Rs 79.91 lakh is surely disproportionate when compared to the revenue from the players (registration and tournament fees),” Arjuna Awardee and chess Grandmaster (GM) Pravin Thipsay told IANS.

The chess players expect at least the next set of chess administrators would look at the development of the game and the players.

As to his expectations, Thipsay listed out the following to IANS:

* AICF has offered cost-free week-long GM coaching camps to every state per year. But very few state associations are willing to accept this free offer. AICF should try to get this excellent scheme actually implemented by state associations.

* The financial support to unemployed and unsponsored players with a rating above 2,625 or 2,650 should continue and to a larger number

* There should be many high prize money low entry-fee tournaments wherein 70-75 per cent budget is spent as prizes as per absolute merit (performance) in open category alone. This is to support all the meritorious ones who don't need lavish lodging, air-conditioned playing halls and are unable to play many tournaments with a big entry-fee and lodging expenditure.

* Tournaments for players below certain ratings result in non-merited players getting more money than merited ones and brings complacency in mediocrity

* Most of the schools, colleges and academies have untrained, unqualified chess trainers/coaches. AICF on its own and also through the state associations should create awareness about FIDE trainers' degrees and should follow up with the schools to have chess coaches with merit criterion such as [i] FIDE TRG degree [ii] AICF CIS degree [iii] Players FIDE titles [iv] ELO Rating. A famous chess proverb is "no coach is better than a bad coach”.

* The state associations need to be questioned for non-participation in the national team championship, open category. Every state may not be able to send a women's team but in the open category, everyone should play.

* A standard of 'a specific minimum allowance to team members' should be set for the state associations for the national team championship and other national championships

* The state selection tournaments and the state school games selection tournaments should have the same time control and similar tournament schedule as in their national and international counterparts

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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