Tony Blair’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has once again risen from the grave, and while it was alleged that Saudi Arabia covertly paid a significant amount to the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) for help with ‘modernization’, the not-for-profit-organization has even confirmed receiving millions from the Kingdom.
According to a recent account published by Financial Times, the donation received by TBI, came from an organization called as Media Investment Limited (MIL), which is a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing group. Ironically, the amount given by MIL is not mentioned in the accounts, but is instead to be mentioned in the 2018 accounts in a years’ time.
TBI was paid £9m earlier this summer, which it says has been invested towards modernization and reform, while none of it has been used yet by the former British Prime Minister. Besides, with Tony Blair’s opaqueness in payments has a long history, and especially when the services are linked to the Kingdom.
It is believed that Tony Blair maintained undisclosed relationships with Saudi Arabia even during his reign as Prime Minister. It was the British arms company BAE, which covertly paid Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia an amount of £1 bn. The aforementioned made a round of payments, which were released by the British firm, using a bank in Washington. Further, upon tracing the source of account, it was also found that the account was linked to Saudi’s reigning clan, who had already served as ambassador to the US. The claims state that the payment of £30m was made every quarter to the Prince, and everything was done under the supervision of Tony Blair’s government.
Therefore, as Blair stepped out of his role as UK’s Prime Minister, he knew that his next role must defy all odds for his business to flourish. Consequently, him getting the role of Middle East peace envoy for UN, worked as a golden opportunity to expand his wings.
Blair’s part in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis gave him the best opportunity to embellish his business. His rank landed him the opportunity to meet the UAE foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Besides, he even received payments from a Korean oil company, interested in business deals with UAE-owned International Petroleum Investment Company. The leaked mails however, clearly showcased how “very grateful” Blair was that Sheikh Abdullah was able to close both the meetings for him. The main focus of the argument however, remains on how Blair’s office received millions in consultancy fees from the UAE.
As Telegraph once reported back in 2015, Mr. Blair is estimated to have earned between £50 million and £100 million since quitting as UK’s Prime Minister, largely through his consultancy business. Mr Blair is also a paid advisor to Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, which also has a gold mine in Colombia.
Likewise, according to a contract, which was once obtained by the Telegraph, the Colombian government did not pay for any fees or the service availed, and the fees owned by the Tony Blair Associates, Blair’s consultancy firm was paid by the UAE.
Even to this date, Tony Blair maintains a good relationship with both Saudi and UAE.
As reported by the Financial Times, though Blair asserts that he spends 80 percent of his time with TBI, but he also maintains lucrative positions, including chairing the JP Morgan International council and the advisory panel to the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline.
According to Reuters, the Saudi King, has dethroned the ideas to tip off the 5% stake in Aramco, fearing its full financial disclosure, which has been allegedly valued at $2 trillion. However, to save its agenda and its Vision of 2030, which clearly puts forth creating openness in the society, it had to do something.
Therefore, giving its first indication that only Tony Blair can come to their rescue. Saudi Arabia contacted two banks namely JP Morgan, which is chaired by Blair and Morgan Stanley, asking them to present their proposals for Aramco’s acquisition of a stake in petrochemicals giants SABIC from the sovereign wealth fund PIF. The following proposal meant that it is Saudi’s wealth fund, which would multiply with their respective stakes, and even escape without harming its ode of modernization.
Clearly, the flow of funds between Blair and Saudi-UAE, put up a question on the way they are utilized. Even when there are no direct channels of fund identified, there is a severe possibility emerging out by linking the above factors that Blair, who chairs JP Morgan, is helping Saudi Arabia avert the economic collapse, by saving the country’s image and luring the foreign investors that it would indeed list Aramco for initial public offering (IPO). Also, the non-disclosure of £9m transaction at first, plausibly presents a fact that something is indeed fishy.