The Telegraph has unveiled in a recent report that Tony Blair asked for $35 million from an oil-rich Arab state to provide advice and consultancy. This matches with an audio recording of senior Egyptian military officials in March 2015 suggesting that the General-turned president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rise to power was partly funded by the UAE, according to the report.
Blair reportedly agreed to advise the Egyptian government as part of a UAE-funded program promising to deliver huge “business opportunities”.
Based on the company documents, the proposal with the United Arab Emirates’ ministry of foreign affairs was worth almost $7 million a year and was due to run for five years.
Tony Blair the former British Prime Minister established Tony Blair Associates (TBA) business for providing consultancy after he had left office at Downing Street .
The TBA asked for “professional fees” of $6,210,000 a year and an additional $688,000 to cover the company’s annual expenses.
The expenses included “contribution towards the transportation costs” for visits by Blair and his team. In return, the former prime minister promised to fly to Abu Dhabi at least 12 times a year.
The Telegraph stated , “The scale of the deal shows how lucrative Mr. Blair’s consultancy business has become.”
Accordingly, there could be a possible conflict of interest between Blair’s private business and his position as Middle East envoy at the time the deal was being done.
As a Middle East envoy, his main job was to improve the economic plight of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, which included attracting international investment from the likes of the Gulf States.
Moreover, it will also infuriate the families of soldiers killed in Iraq who have accused Blair of making a fortune from contacts made during a decade in Downing Street.
“Following the publication of the Chilcot report, which was deeply critical of the ex-Labour leader, the families are hoping to sue Mr. Blair for abuse of power in taking Britain to war in Iraq,” reported the Telegraph.
The financial proposal put together by Blair’s team in London was submitted in a four-page document entitled “Strategic Partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and Tony Blair Associates “said the Telegraph.
The proposal was set on September 8; 2014and followed a 24-page proposal submitted to the UAE five days earlier.
The proposal suggests a total fee in the first year of $6,980,000 excluding tax and additional costs of support services and infrastructure.
In addition, a “furnished” office is also to be paid for by the UAE’s ministry of foreign affairs, including costs such as phone bills.
In return, TBA promises to put in place a full-time team in Abu Dhabi. It includes support from Blair’s “senior staff” in London.
The fee also pays for “Blair’s time”. The proposal adds: Blair will allocate dedicated days to be in Abu Dhabi and to work with you.”It also states that Blair would visit Abu Dhabi at least once a month during year one where all travel costs are covered.
The main target behind the deal as stated in the proposal explained by Blair that his consultancy “can help create networks of connection that capitalize” on the UAE’s strong leadership and financial clout.
“There is a big opportunity for it [the UAE] to build its brand and reputation, and to establish powerful networks of influence,” reported the British newspaper.
Blair’s new business mainly depends on networks he built that extended and operates “in around 25 different countries”.
Tony Blair says that if his work with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is included, “it would be over 50”, adding: “There is virtually nowhere in the world right now where we could not work or provide the necessary contacts either politically or commercially, should we want to.”
Mr. Blair’s fortune has estimated at up to £70 million since he left office – although he insists on claiming that he is worth no more than £10 million – through a series of connected companies based at his London headquarters in Grosvenor Square.
In fact, Blair flew to the UAE for talks with senior officials and members of the royal family, in his then new and unpaid role as Middle East Quartet representative after one month from leaving Downing Street.
Blair met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s foreign minister and the brother of the Crown Prince in July 2007. Sheikh Abdullah and Mr. Blair are understood to be extremely close.
The Telegraph stated previously that the UAE’s foreign ministry already pays for teams of Blair’s advisors in Mongolia, Serbia, Colombia and Vietnam.
It is thought that the money to fund those teams is additional to the $7 million a year TBA was asking for the 2014 partnership but is linked.
Blair has insisted that his companies are offering good governance advice on the ground to emerging nations such as Vietnam and Colombia and that taking money from the UAE to do so is no different than if the funding was from the UK’s Foreign Office or Department for International Development.
The proposal letter states, “Any work related to specific investment opportunities and introductions will require separate mandates and contractual arrangements between the parties concerned.”
In other words, TBA can expect a further fee for investment deals between UAE and third parties, in which it is involved, according to the Telegraph.
Blair’s spokeswoman said, “That is old news and that proposal went no further… In any event, the fees would not go to Mr. Blair but to invest in the business and pay for staff and costs. Mr. Blair does all his work in the Middle East on a not for profit basis.”