Tony Blair's £5m deal to advise Kazakh dictator
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.
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."