Tony Blair's company 'to make £27m advising Kuwait on how to govern itself'
Tony Blair’s company stands to earn £27million for advising the oil-rich Kuwaiti government, it was claimed last night.
The former prime minister’s consultancy firm has been advising the Gulf monarchy how to govern itself.
Such a payout would indicate that estimates of Mr Blair’s earnings since he left Downing Street – usually put in the £20million to £40million range – could be well below the mark.
Cultivated friendship: Tony Blair with the Emir of Kuwait in 2007
Kuwaiti sources familiar with the deal say Mr Blair’s firm stands to earn more than 12million dinars, the equivalent of £27million.
A spokesman for Mr Blair last night dismissed the claims as exaggerated but said a team from Tony Blair Associates will be working with the Kuwaitis for ‘several years’.
The extent of the former premier’s ties to Kuwait led to claims he is cashing in on the contacts he cultivated in government and as a Middle East peace envoy, a post which grants him access to Gulf leaders with whom he has developed financial ties.
The claims were also met with dismay among relatives of Britain’s war dead, who accused Mr Blair of profiting from his decision to invade Iraq – a war popular with the Kuwaiti Royal Family since it saw the end of Saddam Hussein, who invaded their country in 1990.
Kuwait was the first client of Tony Blair Associates, the London-based firm set up by Mr Blair in 2009 to recommend ‘political and economic trends and governmental reform’.
The firm was contracted to produce ‘Kuwait Vision 2035’, a report into the kingdom’s political and economic future which was delivered earlier this year.
But since then Mr Blair and his consultants have been helping to implement the report’s findings, while training a team of ‘super mandarin, British-style’ civil servants to run the country.
A government source in Kuwait said ‘at the moment they have gone over the 12million dinar mark’ for ‘on-going consultancy work related to the report’.
‘Mr Blair got the work because of his high international profile and vast experience of government,’ the source said. ‘The fact that he helped defeat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq didn’t harm his bid either.
‘He is regularly over here nowadays, as are his staff. In turn his Kuwaiti trainees have been invited to London. They will be shown around Whitehall and pick up tips learnt from Mr Blair’s time running the UK.’
During his visits to Kuwait, it is claimed Mr Blair and his wife Cherie have used – for free – the £2,000-a-night Royal Suite at the Sheraton Hotel.
Big spender: Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Saba has earmarked £45bn for new development projects
Mr Blair has gone out of his way to cultivate the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Al-Sabah, who made a state visit to Britain to meet the Queen in 2007, just before Mr Blair left Downing Street.
The Emir has moved to implement some of Mr Blair’s 2,000 recommendations. He has earmarked £45billion for 250 projects to be started over the next four years alone, including a new business hub called Silk City, a new harbour, railway and metro system.
There is also the suggestion a street might be named after Mr Blair.
There is concern in Kuwait about how Mr Blair separates his envoy work and his private business interests. He also represents the investment bank JP Morgan in the country.
‘One minute he’s earning massive profits for TBA or JP Morgan, and then
he’s offering to end wars in the Middle East,’ said another source.
The extent of Mr Blair’s income is unclear since he uses a web of companies and partnerships to conduct his business.
His firm’s report has faced criticism in Kuwait, where education minister Moudhi Al-Humoud called it ‘negative’ and ‘vague’.
And Ahmad Saeid , a Kuwaiti analyst, said: ‘I’m sure I’m not the only person in Kuwait who hopes that our government’s definition of “good governance” is not the same as Tony Blair’s.’
A spokesman for Mr Blair last night dismissed the claims, saying: ‘The fees are nowhere remotely near that sum and they were in respect of a full-time team of people hired for the project over several years.
‘The work done is all a matter of public record and has been reported extensively in Kuwait and elsewhere.’
He did not respond to questions about whether Mr Blair or his staff had shown Kuwaiti officials around Whitehall.
A Kuwaiti spokesman confirmed that Mr Blair’s consultancy work was ‘on going’. He said payments were confidential.
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