Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is closing the complex and controversial business empire he built up after leaving office in 2007.
Tony Blair Associates, the umbrella association through which Blair’s business dealing run, said in a statement on Tuesday that the former Prime Minister “formally announced to staff his decision to close Tony Blair Associates and wind up the Firerush and Windrush structures,” two companies in the group through which revenues flow.
Blair “will gift the substantial financial reserves to the Not For Profit work, on which he will continue to spend the vast majority of his time,” the statement says. The Guardian estimates that Tony Blair Associates has reserves of over £8 million.
The former Prime Minister will “retain a small number of personal consultancies for my income,” which includes investment bank JPMorgan and a number of private individual clients, according to the Financial Times.
Blair’s business empire is thought to have made him millions, although the structure makes it hard to tell the exact amount. Blair says much of the business’ profits have been funnelled into charity and development work in places like Africa.
His companies provide strategic advice on economics and politics, but have repeatedly been involved with controversial clients such as the authoritarian government of Kazakhstan and oil companies. The Sunday Times claims Blair was involved in a secret “cash for contacts” deal with PetroSaudi to help broker oil deals and advised the Kazakh leader on how to present the deaths of workers in the country.
Tony Blair Associates also published the email Blair sent to staff. Here it is in full:
Over the past nine years we have built a group of organisations employing around 200 people and working in more than 20 different countries round the world.
It is time to take this to a new level.
As I indicated last December at our annual all staff meeting, I want to expand our activities and bring everything under one roof.
I also want now to concentrate the vast bulk of my time on the Not For Profit work which we do. De facto, this has been the case in the past two years but we need to reflect this change in the way we are structured.
To this end, we are going to make the following changes:
1. We will close down Tony Blair Associates and wind up the Firerush and Windrush structures. I will retain a small number of personal consultancies for my income, but 80% of my time will be pro bono on the Not For Profit side.
2. The substantial reserves that TBA has accumulated will be gifted to the Not For Profit work.
3. We will bring our organisations under one roof and are in the process of obtaining new premises to do so.
There will be further announcements as we implement these changes.