Blair's £5m deal with a despot: Explosive leaked papers reveal PM’s greed as he shamelessly touted services to Kazakh president accused of appalling human rights abuse

tn 1Tony Blair touted his firm's services to a dictator for £5.3million a year, the Daily Mail can reveal today. He made the shameless sales pitch to Nursultan Nazarbayev, offering the Kazakh president his 'unique personal experience and insights'. Leaked documents lay bare the former prime minister's dealings with a regime behind appalling human

It is accused of routinely torturing citizens and massacring 15 defenceless protesters in 2011. The dossier reveals that:

A key aide offered Mr Blair's 'private strategic advice' to Mr Nazarbayev only a year after he left No 10;

Six years on he was still touting for work in Kazakhstan, despite civil rights fears;

The pitch promised Mr Blair would be 'particularly closely involved' – for a bigger fee;

He rewrote a speech for Mr Nazarbayev to fend off criticism over the 2011 massacre;

His firm tried to involve an EU crony in lobbying for the Kazakh regime.

The extent of Mr Blair's dealings with the former Soviet republic in central Asia raises further questions about his apparent willingness to work with unsavoury leaders.

'It seems that no regime is too despotic for Tony Blair to work for – provided the price is right,' said Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.

'Since leaving office he has become a gun for hire for all manner of dubious regimes, damaging our reputation around the world.'

Mr Blair denies making any personal profit from his deals with Kazakhstan. His office has said he simply helped to set up an advisory group and had not personally advised Mr Nazarbayev.

But the dossier of 30 emails given to the Mail by a whistleblower reveals that Jonathan Powell, the former PM's chief of staff in Downing Street, contacted a Nazarbayev aide in 2008.

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The regime of President Nazarbayev (right, with Prince Charles in 1996) is accused of routinely torturing citizens and massacring 15 defenceless protesters in 2011

He said Mr Blair 'would be happy to provide private strategic advice to President Nazarbayev' and suggested the two men should hold meetings every three to six months, starting in January 2009.

Mr Powell said the pair should discuss international affairs and 'the proposed nature of future cooperation between Tony Blair and his team and President Nazarbayev and the government of Kazakhstan'.

Mr Blair's involvement was confirmed only in 2011, when the Kazakhs released a video of him sitting next to the president at a meeting.

A few weeks later the regime faced international condemnation when police opened fire on unarmed protesters in the western oil town of Zhanaozen, killing 15 civilians and injuring around 100 more.

Mr Blair helped the regime to 'spin' the massacre when he rewrote a 2012 speech for Mr Nazarbayev and personally advised him to address the human rights criticism 'head on'.

The Mail can reveal he also saw and approved a letter to the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Baroness Ashton.

The letter sought to paint Kazakhstan as 'a remarkable success story' and set out its case for greater partnership with Europe, while playing down the Zhanaozen massacre.

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A key aide offered Mr Blair's (pictured) 'private strategic advice' to Mr Nazarbayev only a year after he left No 10, the dossier reveals

One of Mr Blair's team, former British ambassador Michael Roberts, suggested the letter should be sent out to all European MPs, commissioners and foreign ministers by Baroness Ashton's office, effectively involving her in lobbying for the Kazakh cause.

Baroness Ashton, who was given her peerage by Mr Blair, told the Mail she could not remember whether her office had received the letter.

In 2013, opposition figures in Kazakhstan warned that the civil rights situation had got worse since Mr Blair began advising the president.

Seemingly undeterred, the former prime minister's firm Tony Blair Associates set out its sales pitch to extend its contract, including a range of deals and fees which started at £116,200 a month, plus VAT – it later rose to £1.84million a year.

The 'Political Advice and Positioning Module' – priced at £1.85million – guaranteed four visits from Mr Blair. It promised 'unique insights and support via personal involvement of Tony Blair'.

It added: 'Tony Blair's personal involvement enables assistance and offers discussions, leader to leader, in a way that no other consultancy can offer: leadership is a major part of getting things done.'

In addition to his professional fees, TBA's pitch stressed that Kazakhstan would also need to provide flights, catering and first-class accommodation for Mr Blair and his entourage.

However the regime in Astana would not be expected to pay for his protection team of officers from the Metropolitan Police Service.

A Blair spokesman said no project was agreed with the Kazakh government until 2011 and he 'has taken no personal fee from the project'.

His commercial activities are conducted through two companies, Windrush and Firerush, and he is the ultimate and sole owner of the firms.

The spokesman added: 'We can't comment on the documents you reference. In the interests of balance, no doubt you will also reflect that other similar consultancies work in and with the country, as well as other major international bodies including the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and also the UK government.'

The bombshell documents laying bare Blair's amorality and greed: Revealed in all its breathtaking cynicism, how our former PM demanded £5m a year to polish the image of a tyrant accused of massacring his own people

How much does it cost a corrupt, oil-rich despot with an appalling human rights record to stick Tony Blair on his payroll? It's a question that's been asked repeatedly since our former Prime Minister left Downing Street and began signing lucrative consultancy deals in Kuwait, Qatar, Colombia, China and a host of murky dictatorships.

Informed sources frequently allege that his global portfolio of sometimes dodgy clients is likely to be worth tens of millions of pounds per year.

Yet such estimates are always loftily dismissed, occasionally by the man himself.

In a recent speech, Blair somewhat comically claimed to be worth less than £20 million, despite boasting property holdings which, alone, are worth around twice that.

Today, the Mail can finally lay the spin and speculation to rest: the real fee, per autocratic client, is precisely £5.3 million per year.

That, at least, is what Labour's one-time leader asked for, in writing, to provide 'leader-to-leader' advice to one of the world's ugliest despots, Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Their commercial relationship stretches back to at least 2011, and — we can disclose — was first mooted in 2009, meaning that the 75-year-old tyrant might have paid more than £20 million to secure Blair's services.

Thanks to a dossier of leaked documents, we are now also able to expose some extraordinary details of the work Blair actually carries out to earn this astonishing fee (which includes VAT).

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Tony Blair's handwritten letter (above) advising Kazakh despot Nursultan Nazarbayev how to spin a massacre

We can chronicle, in detail, how he's offered help to Nazarbayev, a deeply oppressive autocrat who has run Kazakhstan as a personal fiefdom for almost 30 years.

In that time, his regime has fixed elections, imprisoned and murdered opponents, shut down opposition newspapers, and siphoned vast wealth to a motley selection of Nazarbayev's friends and family members.

The U.S. state department has accused Nazarbayev's government of presiding over 'pervasive corruption' along with 'torture', 'restrictions on freedom of speech', 'arbitrary arrest', and 'discrimination and violence against women'.

None of which would appear to bother Blair too much. For we can also reveal how Britain's former PM secretly helped the Kazakhs lobby the European Parliament to pursue 'partnership and co-operation' with this vile dictator at a time of global outrage over the massacre by his regime of 15 striking oil workers.

Documents obtained by the Mail show that in 2012 Blair advised his client to enlist the help of his old friend, Baroness Ashton, a former New Labour crony-turned-EU Commissioner, in an attempt to convince MEPs that, despite the bloody atrocity, Kazakhstan was a 'remarkable success story' worth courting as a trading partner.

Shamelessly, Blair then personally intervened to help the despotic Nazarbayev 'spin' the massacre to news outlets, providing extensive advice to the dictator regarding how, in his words, to 'deal with it in the way I suggest is the best way for the Western media'.

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Blair (left) greets Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (right) in Downing Street in November 2000

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Blair's 'Letter of Proposal' setting out in detail the 'political advice' work his firm will carry out for Kazakhstan

These, and other hair-raising revelations are contained in a leaked tranche of more than 30 emails sent by Blair's consultancy firm, Tony Blair Associates, to the Kazakh government over the past seven years.

They offer detailed and wholly unprecedented insight into the former Prime Minister's lucrative — some would say deeply immoral — business affairs, showing the degree to which he has leveraged contacts made in Downing Street for commercial gain.

Blair has always endeavoured to keep his controversial links to Nazarbayev secret, typically issuing short and dismissive comments about the subject when it attracts criticism from the media or human rights organisations.

Yet the emails, which include chummy handwritten letters from Blair to Nazarbayev, shed unprecedented light on the extent of their relationship, suggesting it runs far, far deeper than previously thought. They also showcase Blair's grasping sales pitch to the dictator, revealing exactly how he attempted to negotiate a renewal of his annual 'consultancy' contract with the regime in 2014.

For a total sum of $6.3 million, plus VAT — the equivalent of £5.3 million — Tony Blair Associates [TBA] offered in June that year to provide 12 months of 'political advice' to the despot, as well as offering counsel on the country's notoriously corrupt legal system and setting up a 'civil service academy'.

Blair's fee was set out in detail in emails from Austrian lawyer Andreas Baumgartner, a member of his 'senior leadership team', to the Kazakh ambassador to London, Erzhan Kazykhanov, sent that June.

tnd 4This section of the proposal set out Blair's 'personal involvement' in Kazakhstan's 'journey of evolutionary change'

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The proposal describes how the services will cost $166,500 per month, in a project overseen by Blair

They explained that TBA wanted $2.65 million (£1.85 million) for providing 'political advice', plus $2.55 million (£1.78 million) for helping Nazarbayev uphold the 'rule of law' and $1.1 million (£770,000) for running the civil service academy.

The money — part of which covered 'professional fees' for Tony Blair — would be paid to Windrush Ventures, a firm which Companies House says has Mr Blair as its 'ultimate controlling party'.

Asked about this arrangement, Blair's office issued a statement last night denying that money paid by Kazakhstan to the firm, which has £12 million in the bank, ended up going to him 'personally'.

'Fees do not go to Mr Blair personally, but primarily fund the team on the ground to live and work in the country,' it read. 'Mr Blair has taken no personal fee from the project.'

Either way, central to the multi-million-pound 2014 sales pitch was Blair himself.

In a nine-page 'letter of proposal', marked 'confidential' and headlined 'Supporting Kazakhstan's Journey: Continuing the Co-operation between Kazakhstan and Tony Blair Associates', the firm told the dictator it was 'honoured by your trust and are looking forward to the next chapter' in their commercial relationship.

tnd 6Blair (right) is pictured with his predecessor Gordon Brown (left) at Westminster Hall in September 2010

The document, essentially a sales patter for the 'political advice' section of their proposed contract, claimed: 'Direct involvement of Tony Blair and senior members of Tony Blair Associates will ensure top-level political advice and insights to Kazakhstan's key decision-makers.

We are looking forward to bringing this top-level political leadership experience to the table.

'Tony Blair will continue to oversee the project and support Kazakhstan's leadership in the journey of evolutionary change. He will share his own experience, support problem solving, and discuss suggestions and recommendations.

'Mr Blair also intends to visit Astana [the capital] during the work, and engage on the project with the President, Akorda [his office], and Government representatives and other key decision-makers.

'Beyond that, Mr Blair will be available via phone and mail throughout the course of the project, and will be happy to meet with leading representatives of Kazakhstan in London.'

In a later email, Baumgartner clarified that Blair, or 'TB', would make at least four personal visits to Kazakhstan during the year that the £5.3 million deals ran, while his firm would offer further 'hands-on' help for the dictator from a range of 'very heavy senior experts'.

He specified that four employees of Blair would be permanently stationed 'on the ground' there.

Meanwhile, in a 14-page prospectus discussing the 'civil service academy', also marked 'confidential', Tony Blair Associates sought to justify these exorbitant fees by describing itself as 'a unique value proposition'.

'Tony Blair's personal involvement enables assistance and offers discussions 'leader to leader' in a way that no other consultancy can offer: leadership is a major part of getting things done,' it declared, adding that he boasts 'an extensive and unparalleled network of trusted and experienced advisers and experts'. It was, all told, quite the hard sell.

Meanwhile, a third 'confidential' document, spanning six pages and described as a 'letter of financial proposal', added that the vast fees weren't all that the Kazakhs were required to pay to secure Blair's services.

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Mr Nazarbayev is pictured with the Queen at Buckingham Palace in November 2006

They were also told to pay for 'a dedicated car with driver in Astana' a full-time 'translator', and 'adequate, designated office space' for Blair staff there.

Most costly of all, perhaps, would be a requirement for Nazarbayev's government to cough up for the 'full travel arrangements for visits by Tony Blair, including first-class hotel accommodation, all transportation... appropriate catering and any other costs' each time he comes to Kazakhstan, for him and up to 'five people travelling' in a personal entourage.

All of which is an eye-opening insight into the gilded lifestyle now enjoyed by our former Prime Minister, who to the concern of many former socialist supporters, has devoted recent years to the accumulation of vast wealth. Nazarbayev's regime isn't even the only paymaster Blair appears to boast in Kazakhstan. Other emails refer to potential deals with the country's national bank, along with local government in the city of Kyzylorda.

Meanwhile, several of his former Downing Street cronies have also benefited from the deal.

Alastair Campbell and Tim Allan, Blair's former spin-doctors, have carried out extensive PR work for the despot, while Cherie Blair in 2014 signed a £1,000-per-hour deal to give his regime legal advice.

What the taxpayers of Kazakhstan would make of their government's role in enriching Mr Blair and his chums can only be imagined.

To the despotic Nazarbayev, however — a former Communist party boss who has ruled the country since independence in 1991, winning an 'election' last April with 97.7 per cent of the vote — the commercial relationship has at times proved to be invaluable.

Take, for example, events that unfolded in the first half of 2012, amid growing international outrage over an incident months earlier when the dictator's police force had opened fire on a crowd of striking industrial workers in the city of Zhanaozen, killing 15 unarmed men and women.

The incident was par for the course in a country where, according to Amnesty International, 'impunity for torture and other ill-treatment remain largely unchallenged'.

Yet complaints by human rights groups had slowly begun to turn the massacre into a global cause celebre.

By March 2012, it was threatening to overshadow an effort by Nazarbayev to sign an 'enhanced partnership and co-operation agreement' with the EU, which was due to be considered by the European Parliament that month.

Indeed, the Kazakhs were increasingly concerned that MEPs, with their pesky concerns for human rights, might decide to vote down the precious 'partnership' in their debate on March 14.

Enter Tony Blair.

I can reveal that five days before the all-important debate, Michael Roberts, a former British ambassador then on the payroll of TBA's team in Astana, emailed the Nazarbayev regime with a secret plan, endorsed by Blair, to secure the agreement's safe passage through the EU Parliament.

At its centre would be a letter, attached to the email, which was signed by Nazarbayev — but had in fact been written by TBA. It sought to distance the dictator from the events in Zhanaozen, express remorse for the atrocity, and argue that his regime was 'determined to learn lessons' from it.

The text of the contrite missive, which spanned several pages, had been 'seen and approved by Mr Blair' and was based on 'ideas from Mr Blair himself'.

It was intended to be sent to Lady Ashton, a former New Labour crony who had been granted a peerage by Blair in 1999 and was by then, conveniently, working as the EU's first ever Foreign Minister.

'We are clear that the letter should quickly become public,' Roberts wrote.

'It is intended to be sent — by Lady Ashton's office — to all MEPs, European Commissioners, and EU Foreign Ministers. For maximum impact, we recommend that it be sent electronically to her office (rather than waiting for a meeting or delivery by hand).

'Obviously the sooner this is done the better. Your mission in Brussels might liaise with Lady Ashton's office on the issue of wider circulation.'

Later in his email to the Nazarbayev regime, Roberts explained that Kazakh diplomats should also launch a campaign of 'direct lobbying in the European Parliament', contacting 'a number of MEPs known to be sympathetic to Kazakhstan'.

They were advised to 'use your relationship with Alfred Gusenbauer', a former Chancellor of Austria, to persuade a 'very influential' Left-wing Austrian politician called Hannes Swoboda, who headed up a socialist voting bloc, to declare support for the 'partnership' deal.

All of which means that Blair's office was behind a secret plan to use Lady Ashton, an old chum, to help lobby the European Parliament (which she then worked for) on behalf of a commercial client. And that client had been responsible for appalling human rights abuse.

What a rum piece of business for our former Prime Minister to be orchestrating!

How extraordinary, one might add, for a Labour politician who for years lectured us about global moral leadership — and whose government famously boasted about its 'ethical foreign policy' — to be accepting money in exchange for mounting such an immoral spin and lobbying operation.

Little wonder that campaigners expressed outrage at the Mail's revelations last night.

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Blair, left, his foreign policy adviser Sir Nigel Sheinwald (centre) and former U.S. President George W. Bush at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in July 2006

'Blair has claimed he's promoting democracy and human rights in Kazakhstan, but it's increasingly clear his objective was to make money,' says Hugh Williamson, an expert on the region from Human Rights Watch.

'Getting involved in lobbying for Nazarbayev in Brussels is a long way from promoting the rule of law and human rights in Kazakhstan, which Blair has claimed were his motives.

Blair should stop trying to mislead the public on what his real motives are.'

It should be stressed that it remains unclear whether the proposed letter that was supposed to be dispatched from Nazarbayev to Catherine Ashton was ever actually sent.

Baroness Ashton said last night that she 'received hundreds of letters and emails' while working for the EU and 'don't remember whether my office ever received this one'.

'I certainly don't remember any conversations with Tony Blair on this,' she added.

We must take her at her word. Interestingly, however, the human rights organisation Open Dialog published a report in 2012 complaining that Ashton, who'd recently met with Nazarbayev, had 'paid little attention to human rights violations in his country'.

As for Blair's office, they claimed 'we have no record of any such letter being sent to Cathy Ashton'.

Curiously, they have in the past vigorously denied ever lobbying on behalf of Kazakhstan, claiming in 2013: 'We don't lobby but we do carry out work on social and economic reform in Kazakhstan.'

Quite how they reconcile that claim with the proposed letter to Ashton is anyone's guess.

Either way, Mr Blair's wider plan appears to have been a great success: the European Parliament's 'enhanced partnership and co-operation agreement' with Kazakhstan was duly ratified. As for the fallout from the Zhanaozen massacre, Blair continued to mastermind a dogged PR operation to prevent his client from facing criticism.

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Blair (left) and Colonel Gaddafi (right) shaking hands at Gaddafi's desert base near Sirte, Libya, in 2015

In July 2012, he wrote a personal letter to Nazarbayev, who was due to visit the UK days later, saying 'I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue', and saying that 'dealing with it in the way I suggest is the best way for the Western media'.

And then he redrafted a speech the despot was due to give in Cambridge during the visit to include mention of the atrocity, and to argue that 'these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made'.

Blair signed the letter to Nazarbayev by hand: 'With very best wishes. I look forward to meeting you in London!'

It was, perhaps, just another chapter in a cosy personal relationship that stretched back to November 2000, when they had first met at Downing Street during a state visit.

Back then, Britain's Prime Minister flattered the dictator by allowing him to cradle his six-month-old baby Leo in his arms.

In 2006, Nazarbayev visited again, and their friendship was cemented when he was once more invited into Downing Street for a series of chummy photo-calls.

Blair quit office in June 2007, and promptly left Parliament to supposedly devote himself to an important new job as the UN's Middle East Envoy.

But in practice, his attention soon turned to the more serious business of becoming extremely rich.

Although his role with the Kazakhs wasn't first reported until 2011, the Mail can reveal that Blair actually began pursuing the lucrative job opportunities there in 2008 —three years earlier than previously known.

We have, to that end, obtained an email sent by Blair's one-time Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, to Yerzhan Kazykhanov, one of Nazarbayev's aides, on November 17 that year.

It refers to discussions taking place about 'possible co-operation between Tony Blair and his team and President Nazarbayev', and lays out in detail the 'confidential advice' that our former PM would be willing to give the wealthy despot.

The lengthy note talks about helping improve his economy and improve his tarnished global reputation. But it, of course, contains no mention of human rights, or democracy.

Instead, the email suggests 'regular meetings between Tony Blair and President Nazarbayev, starting with a meeting in January to cover the international political scene, economic situation in Europe and Kazakhstan, and the proposed nature of future co-operation between Tony Blair and his team and President Nazarbayev . . . meetings should take place every three to six months, with telephone conversations at other times'.

So, it would seem, began a relationship which continues to this day, funnelling cash into the coffers of Tony Blair Associates at a rate of more than £5 million a year, and forever tarnishing the reputation of this most greedy and hypocritical of British prime ministers.

Tony Blair's handwritten letter advising Kazakh despot Nursultan Nazarbayev how to spin a massacre



How Blair's aide emailed Kazakh regime in plot to convince MEPs that their country was a 'remarkable success story'

In March 2012, amid an international outcry over the massacre of striking industrial workers in Zhanaozen, Blair's aide Michael Roberts emails the Kazakh regime discussing how to enlist Baroness Ashton in a covert attempt to convince MEPs that their country is a 'remarkable success story.'



Blair's April 2014 'Letter of Proposal' setting out in detail the 'political advice' work his firm will carry out for Kazakhstan



Blair's April 2014 'letter of financial proposal' setting out costs of the 'political advice' work his firm will carry out in Kazakhstan
The $1,998,000 it quotes was later revised up to $2.65m.

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Email from Blair's employee to Kazakh ambassador quoting $3.75m for 'compromise proposal'
Blair's employee Andreas Baumgartner emails the Kazakh ambassador on June 12th 2014, quoting $3.75 for two of the three deals he hopes to sign

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Blair's colleague offer $400,000 discount for multi-million pound contract boasting of good price for 'heavy senior expert involvement'
Later on June 12, Baumgartner sends a second email quoting $2.55m for the third part of their contract

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3554478/Tony-Blair-s-5million-deal-despot-Leaked-documents-lay-bare-ex-PM-s-greed.html#ixzz46gzs90yt

Daily Mail, 26.04.2016


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