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Quote:"I would never do anything to harm the country or anything improper. I think most people who have dealt with me think I'm a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am."
Tony Blair
BBC interview November 1997, when Labour was accused of changing its policy on tobacco advertising after accepting £1m from formula one's Bernie Ecclestone.

Below is an article from The Guardian.

So, who owns Tony Blair?

Quote:The mystery of Tony Blair's finances

Since Tony Blair stepped down, he has received millions of pounds from an unusual mixture of income streams. His financial affairs have been described as 'Byzantine' and 'opaque'. Can you shed any light on them?

David Leigh and Ian Griffiths
Tuesday 1 December 2009

The former prime minister Tony Blair has received millions of pounds through an unusual mixture of commercial, charitable and religious income streams. Since he stepped down from office in 2007, his financial affairs have been described by observers as "Byzantine" and "opaque". The Guardian is now launching an online competition offering a prize to the person who can shine the brightest light on those financial structures.

Blair has a commercial consultancy, called Tony Blair Associates, plus jobs advising a US bank and a Swiss insurer. He has a multimillion pound book deal. He also has a charity, the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, and another called the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. But much of the income, which includes charitable donations from other sources, has been funnelled through a structure called Windrush Ventures No 3 Limited Partnership. Our contest asks: what is Windrush?

Blair has a complex web of structures involving 12 different legal entities handling the unprecedented millions he is receiving since he stepped down from office in 2007.

So mystifying are the former prime minister's financial structures – which involve highly specialised limited partnerships and parallel companies – that the Guardian today launches an open invitation to tax specialists and accountants to attempt to explain the motivation behind such structures. We have published the Companies House documents and other legal papers regarding the structure of the partnerships at and invite expert comment via our site at

There is no suggestion Blair is doing anything illegal. But he refuses to explain the purpose of the secretive partnerships.

Tax specialists say Blair could use these unusual arrangements at some point in the future to seek to transfer millions tax-free to his four children.

Blair denies, however, that the structures are such an inheritance tax avoidance scheme, known as a "family limited partnership".

"Family limited partnerships" were being publicized to lawyers and accountants in November 2007 at the time Blair's lawyers started to set up his structures.

Known in the trade as "Flips", family limited partnerships are a way of getting round stricter inheritance tax rules in the 2006 budget, imposed by Gordon Brown while Blair was still prime minister.

Jay Krause, a partner at the law firm Withers, is credited with inventing the Flips concept for use in the UK. He told the Guardian it is "entirely possible" to use such Blair-style partnership structures legally to avoid inheritance tax.

Instead of setting up trusts, which are now heavily taxed, children can be granted an ongoing interest in the partnership's wealth, as a "limited partner".

There are other more conventional uses of such specialised limited partnerships, accountants say. These include venture capital schemes, private equity investments, or short-term projects such as film finance.

In each of those cases, the so-called limited partner invests cash, but has little control over what is done with it by the general partner.

In return, they are protected from unlimited liability if anything goes wrong.

None of this seems to apply to Tony Blair, however. No outside "angel" investing cash in Blair Enterprises appears in the records. The structure is so artificial that in one part of it, Blair is, in effect, forming partnerships with himself.

The former prime minister refuses to offer any explanation of why he is using the complex structures.

As they stand, they were recently described by the Financial Times as "neither tax efficient nor managerially useful".

Millions of pounds have been funnelled through one arrangement called Windrush Ventures and a second parallel structure called Firerush Ventures.

They may handle some of the large amounts coming in from Blair's book deal, his six-figure speaking fees, his banking and insurance consultancies, and his pay from Middle Eastern regimes.

The Windrush structure pays for Blair's £560,000 a year lease on his Mayfair office, in Grosvenor Square near the US embassy.

Blair's profit-making commercial schemes involve 12 different Windrush and Firerush legal entities centring on a pair of "limited partnerships".

His spokesman, former No 10 staff member Matthew Doyle, refuses to say who Blair's partner is.

Windrush Ventures No 3 LP, for example, consists on paper of a partnership between an entity owned by Blair himself and an anonymous off-the-shelf company.

This off-the-shelf company, which appears to have been set up by Alex Harle, Blair's lawyer at the Westminster solicitors Bircham, Dyson Bell, is merely called BDBCO No 819 Ltd.

Set up as a nominee company to act as a trustee or an executor of a will, this entity does not reveal its ownership on records at Companies House. Instead, its shares are listed as held by a second off-the-shelf entity, BDBCO No 822.

This company in turn conceals its true ownership. Its shares are listed as held by the lawyers, acting as nominees.

This partner company does not appear to have made any significant investments on its own behalf. The register shows that its sole contribution to the partnership when it was set up in December 2007 was the sum of £19.

The Guardian asked Doyle who owned Blair's partner company. We also asked for the terms of the partnership agreement which divides up the rights to Blair's money. We asked the purpose of the schemes, and what funds had been paid into them.

Doyle refused to answer. He even refused to say why the name "Windrush" was chosen.

In a written statement, he said: "Why we set it up ... was in order to allow Mr Blair's office sensibly to administer his different projects, in accordance with relevant regulations and company law in the UK. He has an operation that has over 80 people working for it around the world. This was done on the basis of advice."

The limited financial information available under company law shows that more than £6m has been passed through the Windrush partnerships, and on to a company owned personally by Blair, called Windrush Ventures Ltd.

The £6m is extracted from the partnership funds by being described as "management fees" going to the general partner – which is a Blair-owned entity.

There is no published record of what other cash or assets remain in the partnership, or how it will be distributed.

The opacity of Blair's Windrush structures is increased by the fact that they have also been used to handle some charitable donations for projects in Africa.

A Sainsbury family charity, the Gatsby foundation, declares it has paid a total of £992,000 to the Windrush limited partnership. This was for charitable projects in Rwanda, in the two financial years to April 2009.

The Gates foundation, funded by the founder of Microsoft, declares it paid $2.46m (£1.49m) to the Windrush LP in June 2008, for similar capacity-building projects in Sierra Leone.

Blair this year applied to set up a charity, the Tony Blair Africa Governance initiative, in February 2009, according to the Charity Commission.

But its application was not accepted until this month, partly because of its novelty and partly through concerns as to whether it was sufficiently separated from Blair's personal office arrangements.

The link with Blair and his office was "one of the issues we considered ... when looking at public benefit and the independence of the charity," the Commission said.



Blair is estimated to be in the process of receiving up to £14m, making him one of Britain's wealthiest ex-prime ministers. This includes a £4.6m memoirs deal with Random House.

He is also receiving a series of US fees from the Washington Speakers Bureau for making speeches estimated to include a £600,000 signing-on fee; consultancies with the US bank, JP Morgan and with Swiss insurers Zurich Financial Services; and commercial consultancy deals through his private firm, Tony Blair Associates, with regimes in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates among others.

The growth in Blair's personal wealth was illustrated in May 2008, when he agreed to pay £5.75m for the late actor John Gielgud's Buckinghamshire residence, described as "a small stately home".

This was in addition to the £4.45m paid earlier for a London home in Connaught Square, together with an adjoining mews house.
Swiss insurers eh.
Richard Murphy is a very good financial investigator, who was the first to bust open the huge scam at the heart of Northern Rock, the first British financial institution bailed out at huge expense by UK taxpayers.

Now, Murphy has peeled away another layer of onion skin from Tony Blair's deliberately opaque financial status.

Quote:Mystery of Tony Blair's money solved

The winner of the Guardian's online contest to solve the mystery of Blair's finances is Richard Murphy, a crusading accountant from Tax Research UK.

His entry unearthed the small print of the Partnership (Accounts) Regulations 2008 to reveal that Blair has found an unusual method to keep his wealth secret from the rest of us. Murphy wins an original cartoon by Steve Bell.

David Leigh and Ian Griffiths, Thursday 17 December 2009

A little-known loophole in UK company law is being used by Tony Blair to keep his finances secret, the Guardian can disclose.

Blair would normally have to publish company accounts detailing the millions flowing into his various commercial ventures since he stepped down from office in 2007.

But he has set up a complicated artificial structure which avoids the normal rule. In effect, he is getting the benefits of running a British company without the drawbacks of unwelcome publicity.

His main vehicle is a so-called limited partnership, christened Windrush Ventures No 3 LP.

Thanks to a gap in the Whitehall regulations, this entity is not required to publish any accounts. Such partnerships must normally disclose figures, or face criminal penalties.

Blair sidestepped the rules by inserting a second partnership as one of the notional partners, in a way the regulations do not cover.

This second partnership, Windrush Ventures No 2 LLP, is a so-called limited liability partnership, a type of entity only invented in 2000, which the rules have not been updated to mention.

The LLP in turn controls Blair's operating company, called Windrush Ventures Ltd, which runs his Mayfair office in Grosvenor Square.

The perfectly legal structures Blair has set up to achieve secrecy are so complicated that they have previously baffled analysts.

They involve 12 different entities, six in the Windrush structure and another half-dozen in a more recent parallel structure called Firerush.

Blair's spokesman told us: "This has been done on the basis of legal and accountancy advice throughout." He called the structures "simply an administrative vehicle established in order to allow Mr Blair's office sensibly to administer his different projects".

One name involved is Blair's lawyer Alexandra Harle, of solicitors Bircham Dyson Bell. She specialises in setting up various types of partnership. Observers estimate that fees for keeping up such complex structures exceed £15,000 a year.

When Blair refused to give any information, the Guardian ran a worldwide online competition as an experiment in crowd-sourcing, to find the best explanation for his schemes.

The winner was crusading accountant Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK. He identified the small print of the Partnership (Accounts) Regulations 2008 as the key to the mystery.

"Memo to Peter Mandelson: this really is an abuse you should stop very soon," he says.

Murphy adds: "What is it that Tony is so keen to hide that he'll go to this length and this cost to do so?"

While the law requires Blair to publish limited accounts for parts of the Windrush entities, the finances of the master-partnership remain a secret. More than £6m can be seen to have cascaded down from the partnership into other companies. But details of the full revenues remain hidden.

Murphy claims this gives Blair all the advantages of an offshore "secrecy jurisdiction" while allowing him to state, correctly, that he remains a regular, onshore, British taxpayer.
Only £150 for a large sack of self-serving shite: :puke:

Quote:Yours for £150: Tony Blair's memoirs as gospel

Former prime minister's publishers to launch a special signed edition in red and gold

There is one guaranteed way of avoiding the fixed grin of Tony Blair when his ardently awaited political memoir, A Journey, finally hits the book shops on 1 September with a thud — 624 pages, for a reported advance of £4.6m.

Although the cover of the regular edition features the former prime minister in sincere stare straight-to-camera and regular-kind-of-guy unbuttoned collar, there is also a special edition with none of those features. For a mere £150, each signed copy will have a curiously liturgical appearance, in a cloth slip case as crimson as a cardinal, with the title stamped in gold.

Blair's publishers, Random House, will attempt to generate Harry Potterish excitement, with the book launched worldwide without advance release of review copies or a pre-publication serialisation deal. Translation rights have already been sold in 14 territories, according to The Bookseller, and an ebook version, and an audio book read by the author, will also be released. A dedicated website, featuring previously unseen photographs, videos and extracts, will also go live on the day.

A spokeswoman for Random House was unable to reveal how many copies of the special edition have been printed. However, on the Amazon website the regular edition has already been slashed to half price, £12.50.

It may be some comfort to the author that Peter Mandelson's The Third Man, widely thought to have been rushed to publication to beat Blair, has been chopped to exactly the same price. Prelude to Power, the diaries of the real third man, Alastair Campbell, is now even better value at £11.99. Neither book is available in Bible format.
Well worth the money if, as seems likely, Tony Blair becomes the next Pope.
Signed in blood?
I've just heard he is going to donate the advance and all profits to the Royal British Legion.

Words fail me.
In best New Labour tradition, Blair just can't stop spinning.

I wouldn't be surprized to learn there are tax advantages as well.

I note he's not donating money from his investment bank and oil company consultancies.

Responding to Blair's "donation", one of the grief-stricken British parents of a dead soldier said, effectively, (I paraphrase) that whilst money to a military charity was welcome, the fact that Blair brazenly stated that he had "no regrets" at the culmination of his Iraq Inquiry makes such a gesture fairly meaningless.

Quote:Tony Blair pledges book proceeds to Royal British Legion

Former PM marks 'enormous sacrifice' of armed forces by donating money from memoirs, including £4.6m advance

Tony Blair, who led the UK into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to donate the proceeds from his forthcoming memoir to the Royal British Legion.

A spokesman for the former prime minister, who is understood to have already received a £4.6m advance for A Journey, said he would hand over all the money he makes – including the advance – "as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice [the armed forces] make for the security of our people and the world".

Blair's spokesman added: "In making this decision, Tony Blair recognises the courage and sacrifice the armed forces demonstrate day in, day out. As prime minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice."

The book is expected to generate huge interest when it goes on sale on 1 September. Translation rights have been sold in 14 territories.

"The proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion's Battle Back challenge centre, a project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured troops returning from the frontline," the spokesman said. "We have been consulting with a number of people and organisations to decide the best support he can give. [This] is one project consistently highlighted."

It is understood that negotiations about the donation have been going on for several months.

Chris Simpkins, the charity's director general, said he was delighted to accept "this very generous" offer, which he said would help the organisation to hit its £12m fundraising target.

"The culture of the centre will very much be about what users of the service can do rather than what they can't, but some of the servicemen and women are likely to need the Legion's support for the rest of their lives. Mr Blair's generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel."

Blair's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 prompted huge anti-war protests and led to splits within the Labour party amid claims the war was illegal.

Today his spokesman said the former prime minister had always been committed to recognising the role played by the UK's armed forces.

"As Tony Blair said to the House of Commons on his last day in office, 'I believe that they [the armed forces] are fighting for the security of this country and the wider world against people who would destroy our way of life. But whatever view people take of my decisions, I think that there is only one view to take of them: They are the bravest and the best.'"

However, anti-war activists who are preparing to protest next month in London at a planned appearance by Blair to sign copies of his book said that his decision to give the money to the British Legion proved that he had a "guilty conscience".

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said: "Tony Blair's decision to give the money made from his memoirs to the British Legion is welcome if it means that some of those who have suffered as a direct consequence of his criminal wars will benefit."

"But no proportion of Tony Blair's massive and ill-gotten fortune can buy him innocence or forgiveness. He took this country to war on a series of lies against the best legal advice and in defiance of majority opinion."

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the pointless death of hundreds of British soldiers and hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians."
State-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities for soldiers who lost limbs in wars that would never have happened were it not for Blair.

The irony is lacerating.
The puppet with no shame...

Quote:Blair Inc's 'baffling' increase in earnings

Accountants question transparency of financial records kept by former PM's complex web of companies

Jamie Doward, Saturday 7 January 2012 22.42 GMT

Unemployment is rising and companies are going to the wall as the economic turmoil continues to inflict damage across the globe. But one organisation is thriving. Records recently filed at Companies House show Tony Blair Inc is going from strength to strength. They reveal that income channelled through a complex network of firms and partnerships controlled by Blair rose more than 40% last year to more than £12m. Of this, almost £10m was paid for "management services". The money was transferred via a network of firms and financial vehicles.

Accountancy experts are questioning the arcane nature of the network's finances, which makes it difficult to trace where its money is coming from, or where it is being spent.

Accounts for Windrush Ventures, an obscure company that operates under the trading name "the Office of Tony Blair", suggest 2011 has been a successful year for the former prime minister. Windrush saw its turnover rise to just over £12m, up from £8.5m in 2010. Pre-tax profits rose from £729,000 to £1.1m.

The accounts reveal that the company received "remuneration of £9,837,000 in connection with management services" from a limited liability partnership ultimately controlled by Blair. In the previous year Windrush Ventures Limited received £5.2m in remuneration for providing management services. Exactly what sort of management services are provided, and how the company derives its income, are impossible to determine as the accounts do not go into detail. Blair is legitimately taking advantage of laws allowing him to limit what his companies and partnerships must disclose. "It is baffling; these accounts make remarkably little sense," said accountancy expert Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, a firm that scrutinises company finances. "This limited disclosure is not within the spirit of the law. "

Public documents have disclosed that a related financial vehicle, Windrush Ventures No3 LP, received almost $2.5m (£1.6m) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008 to fund projects aimed at poverty relief in Sierra Leone. A Sainsbury family charity, the Gatsby Foundation, gave £992,000 in 2010 for charitable projects in Rwanda.

A spokesman for Blair explained the grants were in relation to his Africa Governance Initiative, now registered as a separate, independent charity. He declined to comment on how much, if any, of Windrush's income was derived from private business activities advising heads of state and global corporations. In the past year Blair has advised Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan's president, who is reportedly keen to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It also emerged that in 2008 Blair wrote to the then Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, discussing potential African infrastructure investments he should consider. In both cases, his spokesman denied Blair was personally profiting from the discussions.

Blair has been criticised for the way his private and philanthropic activities have appeared to merge. In his role as the Quartet's representative to the Middle East he helped persuade Israel to open up radio frequencies so a telecoms company, Wataniya Mobile, could operate in the West Bank. He also championed the development of a gas field off the coast of Gaza, operated by British Gas.

Both Wataniya Mobile and British Gas are major clients of JP Morgan, the US investment bank that pays Blair £2m a year for his role as a senior adviser. Blair said he had been unaware that both companies were clients of the bank and his spokesman stressed the deals were vital in bringing prosperity to the region.

Windrush Ventures Ltd spent almost £3m on staff, rent and other services but had total administration costs of almost £11m. "Just what is this company doing?" Murphy asked. "You would expect total costs to be around double the costs of employing staff. But in this case total administrative costs are £10.9m. That's a very high ratio indeed." He added: "We have no idea where this money is coming from or how it's being spent. The structure seems designed to impose a veil of secrecy over its accounts."

Blair has lucrative advisory roles for companies including luxury goods firm LVMH and Swiss insurer Zurich. He has undertaken work for the Kuwaiti royal family, an Abu Dhabi-based investment house and a South Korean oil firm. Much of his private business interests are thought to be channelled via another set of linked firms called Firerush Ventures. One of the firms has a licence from the Financial Services Authority allowing it to provide investment advice.

Blair's spokesman said: "Across all of his activities there are more than 120 people employed around the world. The Windrush accounts are prepared in accordance with relevant legal, accounting and regulatory guidance. Tony Blair continues to be a UK taxpayer on all of his income and all his companies are UK registered."
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