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'Blair got $1.5 million to advise Kuwait rulers'

March 22, 2010 16:01 IST

Former British prime minister Tony Blair was paid a whopping $1.5 million to advise Kuwait's royal family and had made great efforts to keep it a secret, a media report has claimed. Blair, currently the official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East on behalf of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, received the amount for advising the first family of the oil-rich country and the deal was kept secret at the request of the Kuwait government, Daily Mail reported.

The deal came to light when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the body vetting the jobs of former British ministers, released documents ignoring Blair's objections. Blair has amassed an estimated fortune of $30 million since he resigned as prime minister in June 2007 after a decade-long tenure at 10, Downing Street, the paper said. It also reported that Blair was paid 'hundreds of thousands of pounds' to advise the South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation, one of the biggest investors in Iraq's oil-rich Kurdistan region.

The details of the two deals were kept secret as Blair claimed they were commercially sensitive. However, the ACBAs chairman reviewed the papers and ordered the deals to be made public over the weekend.

A spokesman for Blair told the Daily Mail, " Blair gave a one-off piece of advice in respect of a project for UI Energy in August 2008. He sought, and received, approval from the Committee on Business Appointments before undertaking this project.

It was UI Energy who requested that the committee delay public announcement, due to reasons of market sensitivity." The report also claims Blair's company, Tony Blair Associates, has struck deals for his services in Kuwait and the UAE. In a report published last week, the former British premier said Kuwait needs to change if it is to fulfill its potential and avoid an 'uncertain future'.

He said the Gulf country needs to make a fundamental decision about its future to become a regional powerhouse. "Kuwait's history is great with a proud tradition of entrepreneurship and trading. Its potential is enormous and its people are talented and creative. But the plain truth is, that without a change in direction, this potential will not be realised," Blair said at the launch of Vision Kuwait 2035.

Estimates show Blair has made almost $30 million since he left Downing Street, including a $3 million consultancy job with investment bank JP Morgan, a $7,50,000 consultancy contract with Zurich Financial Services, a $7 million deal to write his memoirs and countless millions from speeches across the globe.

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