Tony Blair demanded more than £5 million a year to advise a dictator through his secretive consulting business. Leaked documents show for the first time the huge fees charged by Tony Blair Associates, a company set up by the former prime minister on leaving Downing Street, in a much criticised deal with Kazakhstan.
“I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue...in any event these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made.”Tony Blair to Nursultan Nazarbayev
Mr Blair’s company earned millions of pounds over at least six years advising the Kazakhstan government and its autocratic president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
It is claimed Mr Blair first began negotiations to offer advice to Mr Nazarbayev in 2009 and began formally working with the government in 2011. By the time the contract was being renewed in late 2014, Mr Blair's team was offering a series of services at a total cost of $6.3 million - about £5.3 million.
The fee charged by TBA was set out in an email from one of its most senior employees Andreas Baumgartner to the Kazakh ambassador to London and sent in December 2014.
TBA was demanding $2.65 million for providing ‘political advice’; $2.55 million for helping Nazarbayev uphold the rule of law; and a further $1.1 million for running the civil service academy.
The email states that TBA was also hoping to secure a further, potentially lucrative contract with Kazakhstan’s national Bank and explains that Mr Blair was due to hold a meeting with its Governor Kairat Kelimbetov the next day.
Mr Kelimbetov was sacked a year later in November 2015 after the Kazakh currency plunged by a third. The email reveals TBA was also planning a third contract with a region of Kazakhstan called Kyzylorda.
The money was to be paid through Windrush Ventures No.3 LP, one of a number of companies set up by Mr Blair to administer his various business interests.
The complex structure of his corporate empire makes it impossible to know precisely what Tony Blair Associates receives nor the personal profits received by Mr Blair.
His personal fortune, which includes a number of properties co-owned with his wife and children, has been estimated at as much as £80 million although Mr Blair denies it is anything like as high as that.
The 2014 contract proposal, entitled ‘Supporting Kazakhstan’s Journey: Continuing the cooperation between Kazakhstan and Tony Blair Associates’ describes over eight pages’ offers one project leader and one junior adviser based in Astana, the Kazakh capital.
But TBA also make a series of demands that include the provision of a dedicated driver and car paid for by the Kazakh taxpayer as well as additional translators and interpreters.
Kazakhstan also pays for ‘full travel arrangements’ for Tony Blair’s personal visits, including ‘first-class hotel accommodation, all transportation, appropriate catering and any other costs”.
On each visit Mr Blair will travel with up to five people although the letter points out that his protection officers, supplied by the Metropolitan Police, “will not be paid by the Government of Kazakhstan”.
Their travel and accommodation bills are picked up by the UK taxpayer. “Professional fees are the biggest cost item,” adds the letter, leaked to the Daily Mail.
Kazakhstan, in central Asia, is larger than all of Western Europe put together and is rich in oil and gas and minerals.
Mr Blair first met Mr Nazarbayev, who has ruled since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, while he was prime minister.
The Telegraph has previously disclosed details of a leaked letter from Mr Blair to Mr Nazarbayev offering him public relations advice on how to deal with the massacre of striking workers in the oil town of Zhanaozen in December 2011.
Mr Blair helped Mr Nazarbayev with a speech delivered at Cambridge University in July 2012. “I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue,” Mr Blair wrote, “...in any event these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Blair said: “We had no project with the Kazakhstan government prior to 2011.
“Fees do not go to Mr Blair personally but primarily funds the team on the ground to live and work in the country, as well as support staff and the hiring of other consultants as necessary. Mr Blair has taken no personal fee from the project."
On the advice over the massacre, the spokeswoman added: "As we have said many times, our consistent advice was that the government should establish a full and thorough independent investigation on the events, as well as identify the steps they needed to take to ensure that such tragic occurrences would never happen again."
Tony Blair's global empire of influence
27 June 2007
After a decade in office, Tony Blair steps out of Downing Street as prime minister for the last time. The same day, he announces that he will be the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East, representing the UN, US, EU and Russia.
Mr Blair flies to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for talks with senior officials and members of the royal family, his first official visit as Quartet Representative.
Mr Blair sets up two companies: Windrush Ventures Limited and Windrush Ventures No.1 Limited. It is later understood that Windrush Ventures Limited pays money for Mr Blair’s Government Advisory Practice.
During a tour of China, Mr Blair is hired for £200,000 to give a speech to businessmen and government officials. He is criticised by local media for charging a huge sum of money yet apparently failing to say anything interesting.
The Rwandan government becomes the first to be advised by Mr Blair’s new charity, the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI). Mr Blair also begins advising the government of Sierra Leone through AGI.
In January, it emerges that Mr Blair is earning around £2million a year from the Wall Street bank JP Morgan, providing "strategic advice and insight on global political issues”. The Swiss financial services company Zurich separately announces that it has signed up Mr Blair to advise on "developments and trends in the international political environment" in a deal thought to be worth £500,000 a year.
In August, he strikes a deal to advise South Korea’s UI Energy Corporation, which is said to have extensive oil interests in the US and in Iraq.
In January, Mr Blair visits Muammar Gaddafi. It later emerges that Mr Blair had six private meetings with the Libyan dictator within three years of leaving Downing Street and on at least two occasions Mr Blair flew to Tripoli on a private jet paid for by the Libyan regime.
In May, Mr Blair sets up Firerush Ventures Limited and the following month Firerush Ventures No.1 Limited is incorporated. It is later understood that Firerush Ventures Limited administers the funding for Mr Blair and his team’s work advising companies and sovereign wealth funds.
Around July, TBA strikes a lucrative deal to advise Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, which has a portfolio worth more than £44 billion. Mr Blair also begins advising Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf through his AGI charity.
TBA secures a contract with PetroSaudi, an oil company founded by a senior member of the Saudi royal family, for a fee of £41,000 a month and a two per cent commission on any of the deals he helps broker.
Mr Blair strikes a deal to advise Nursultan Nazarbayev, the autocratic president of Kazakhstan. The deal is thought to be worth millions of pounds.
Mr Blair later advises him on how to manage his image after the slaughter of unarmed civilians protesting against his regime.
Mr Blair begins advising Alpha Conde’s government in Guinea through his charity AGI, later offering advice on how to improve the government’s image following mass civil unrest, in which nine protesters died and hundreds were injured in clashes with government.
AGI begins work in Malawi, advising President Joyce Banda’s government. Mr Blair’s team later pulled out of the country amid a corruption scandal, but the president’s office insisted the events were not linked.
Separately Mr Blair’s consultancy strikes a deal worth almost £4 million a year to advise the state government of São Paulo, the economic powerhouse behind Brazil’s rapidly growing economy. However the sum is disputed by Mr Blair and a key organisation in the deal said he had never started work because the money was never found to fund his team.
Mr Blair is reportedly paid $1 million to broker deal to create world’s largest mining company, Glencore Xstrata, in which Qatar had a sizeable stake.
On a trip to Vietnam, Mr Blair reportedly offers to advise the government on issues including reforming the country’s economy and attracting more foreign investment.
He later reaches an agreement for TBA to provide a team of consultants to work in the country, funded by UAE.
Mr Blair strikes a deal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to advise the Peruvian government on issues including public-private partnerships (PPPs).
TBA also begins advising Myanmar’s government, where his office says his work is pro-bono.
Mr Blair negotiates a contract to advise the Mongolian government just as the country strikes it rich from a vast copper and gold mine in the Gobi desert.
TBA begins advising Edi Rama’s government in Albania. Mr Blair insists his firm is not paid by the Albanian government. Albania is also part of the World Bank-backed Global Network of Delivery Leaders, led by Mr Blair.
Two of Mr Blair’s most senior aides fly to Bogota, Colombia’s capital, to sign a deal under which his consultants would monitor the redistribution of billions of pounds earned by Colombia from mining deals.
TBA’s consultancy fees are paid for by the UAE, as part as the firm's deal with the Gulf state.
Mr Blair proposes a deal to advise the UAE, which one source claims could be worth £30 million.
His team discusses the proposed deal with the UAE’s foreign ministry, which is headed by the minister with whom he works in his role as Quartet Representative.
It emerges that Mr Blair is advising Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, through AGI. Kenyatta was indicted by the International Criminal Court for the deaths of hundreds of his countrymen in post-election violence in 2007, but later cleared.
The same month TBA confirms that has struck a deal to advise Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, with his work in the country believed to be funded by the UAE.
An audio recording of senior Egyptian military officials suggests that the now- president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rise to power was partly funded by the UAE.
Mr Blair reportedly agrees to advise the Egyptian government as part of a UAE-funded programme promising to deliver huge “business opportunities”.
27 May 2015
Mr Blair steps down as Quartet representative amid criticism that his diplomatic role had been compromised by his lucrative consultancy work and business deals with governments around the world.
Telegraph News, 23.04.2016