The Blairs Are Everywhere

But There’s More Cherie Get’s in on the Action

Cherie Blair is being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for a few months’ legal work by Kazakhstan, whose autocratic president employs her husband as an official adviser. Mrs Blair’s law firm Omnia Strategy agreed a deal with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice earlier this year to conduct a review of the country’s “bilateral investment treaties”. The first stage of the review, which was expected to take as little as three months, is worth £120,000, sources have told The Sunday Telegraph.

A second phase of the project is worth a further £200,000 to £250,000 for another three to four months’ work, it is understood. Omnia Strategy, which Mrs Blair set up in 2011, also has an option to complete a third stage of the legal project for the Ministry of Justice at a fee to be decided, according to the source. Mrs Blair is understood normally to charge clients £1,150 an hour but will bill the Kazakh taxpayer at a reduced rate of £975 an hour if the Ministry of Justice, based in the capital Astana, continues to employ Omnia on the legal review into its third stage.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/kazakhstan/11038772/How-Cherie-Blair-earns-1000-an-hour-from-the-Kazakh-taxpayer.html

But there’s more – Tony & Cherie Blair, the oil tycoon and jobs for Blairites in poor Albania

On the face of it, Albania, once the most hardline of Stalinist states and still one of the poorest countries in Europe, seems unlikely to hold much attraction for Tony Blair. But The Telegraph can disclose that the Balkan country, recently discovered to be abundant in oil and gas, appears to be providing rich pickings for a dynasty of Blairites.

This newspaper has already disclosed how Mr Blair is a consultant to Albania’s Labour government. Now it has emerged that his wife Cherie picked up a lucrative legal contract with the previous government; while even the nephew of Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spin doctor, has landed himself a job advising the new Albanian prime minister.

Mrs Blair was awarded a contract worth £300,000 to advise the Albanian government after making friends with the wife of the Balkan country’s then prime minister while in Downing Street.

Mrs Blair, best known in the legal world as a human rights lawyer, acted for Albania in a billion dollar oil dispute with an American energy firm.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/10822268/Cherie-Blair-the-oil-tycoon-and-jobs-for-Blairites-in-poor-Albania.html

There’s even more – Tony Blair strikes gold in Mongolia

The former prime minister has negotiated 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. The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that Mr Blair spent two days in March in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia’s capital, striking the deal with the country’s president and prime minister.

His diplomatic skills will be needed in a country undergoing a rapid economic transformation. The Mongolian government has been in dispute with Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate, over the operation of the country’s biggest mine. Sources have suggested Mr Blair was called in to mediate between the two although Mr Blair and Rio Tinto both denied that last night.

The addition of Mongolia to Mr Blair’s portfolio will bolster the income of Mr Blair’s Government Advisory Practice, which operates as part of Tony Blair Associates, “the umbrella organisation” for Mr Blair’s “commercial operations”.

Sunday Telegraph investigations have shown Mr Blair and a team of consultants are now paid millions of pounds to advise governments in;

Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Colombia, Brazil, Albania, Malawi, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Liberia, Guinea

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/10108005/Tony-Blair-strikes-gold-in-Mongolia.html

http://uk.b2.mk/news/?newsid=r2v

 

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Tony Looks After Himself

By Richard Heller, (former adviser to Denis Healey and Gerald Kaufman): A Private View

It could become a pub quiz question: who was the first British prime minister to sell himself to a foreign power?

It would be too easy to guess the answer — Tony Blair, who recently signed a multimillion pound contract to advise President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. He has reportedly opened an office in the capital, Astana. Other than the president, no-one knows what advice Mr Blair is giving. His client does not need any advice on winning elections: grateful Kazakhs gave him over 95 per cent of their votes in their last presidential elections in April this year. His party already holds all the seats in parliament. Some media reports suggest that he is advising on financial institutions. According to other reports, he is helping the president prepare a bid for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Again, Tony Blair seems a strange source of advice, until one remembers that the prize was once given to Henry Kissinger.

As with other British ex-politicians, Tony Blair’s paid activities in Kazakhstan are virtually beyond any public scrutiny or control. They are not mentioned on the website of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), the fangless watchdog over ex-ministers who sell their services in the marketplace. Since Tony Blair is not a peer, he did not have to supply the minimal and haphazard information required for the Register of Lords Interests. He did not have to notify the Foreign Office of his Kazakh appointment and it is not mentioned on the website of our local embassy.

Curiously, Tony Blair may face greater scrutiny in the United States than in our own country. If he helps the Kazakhs there in any way, he is potentially liable to register as their agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. This wide-ranging law was originally designed to combat Nazi and Soviet agents: it is piquant to think that it might catch Tony Blair and positively delicious to imagine him receiving a late-night visit from the FBI.

Whatever Tony Blair is doing in Kazakhstan, he should stop it and hand back the money. It does no good to our country and our political system — and it is in very bad taste.

Whether he likes it or not, Tony Blair is taking sides in the internal politics of Kazakhstan, which are murky and dangerous for an amateur outsider. He has become a trophy for the ruling president and a figure of contempt for the opposition.

As North Africa has proved, even very long-running rulers can eventually fall, and if that happened in Kazakhstan (a country of great strategic importance) Tony Blair will have harmed our country’s relationship with the replacement government. But while President Nazarbayev is in power, it must strengthen his ego and his authority in any discussions with our country to have a former premier in his pocket. Whether he likes it or not, Tony Blair will diminish the authority, and in all probability the access, of our ambassador in Astana, David Moran.
If Tony Blair gives the president any advice on how to deal with this country he will be approaching the frontiers of treason. Selling himself to a foreign ruler for any purpose at all seems hard to reconcile with his lifelong oath of loyalty to the Queen and her successors as a privy councillor. Its language is orotund and opaque but its tenor and general purpose are clear.

It ends: “You will to your uttermost bear faith and allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, and authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the crown by acts of parliament, or otherwise, against all foreign princes, persons, prelates, states, or potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.”

Tony Blair does not care much about history unless he can invent it, but if he did take this oath seriously it would warn him against trying to serve two sovereigns and putting himself in the pay of any foreign state or potentate. If the oath means nothing to him, Tony Blair should reflect on the impact on the image of our country when a holder of its highest office hawks himself about to foreign governments. What message does it send to disenchanted British voters who already believe that their politicians are only interested in money?

In recent articles I have called for the strengthening of ACOBA and of the Lords Register of Interests to give the British people more information about ex-politicians’ money and more influence over how they can earn it. After Tony Blair’s Astana adventure, I think we need to go one step further. No ex-minister should be allowed to work for any foreign ruler or government or state agency without the prior approval of the Queen-in-Council, including the prime minister and foreign secretary of the day.

There should be a presumption against any approval, although an ex-minister should be allowed to do voluntary service in a poor country, or to serve as an independent peace envoy or for other humanitarian purposes. That would not bar any ex-minister from joining an international body or a non-governmental organisation.

Without such reforms, our country will see an uncontrolled marketplace for ex-ministers. On second thoughts, maybe that’s no bad thing. Given the recent record of British government, with many more failures and disasters than success stories, it is surprising that such a market exists. Plenty of voters might be happy to sell ex-ministers to any foreign country to make a bid for them. Or even current ones. If Kazakhstan wants to take anyone from this government, I’ve got a little list and they’d none of them be missed.

A former adviser to Denis Healey and Gerald Kaufman, Richard Heller’s advice has never been sought by any foreign government.