A leaked document has emerged showing that former Prime Minister Tony Blair signed a ‘cash-for-contacts’ deal with PetroSaudi, an oil company owned by a member of the Saudi royal family. The contract promised Blair £41,000 a month, and 2 percent commission on any deals brokered as a result of his help, the Times has reported.
Negotiated between Tony Blair Associates and PetroSaudi in November 2010, the 21 page contract detailed an agreement for Blair to introduce the Saudis to his contacts in China, including to senior politicians. It also stipulated that the firm could not discuss the deal with anyone without express permission.
PetroSaudi is a joint venture between Saudi businessman Tarek Obaid and Prince Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud, a son of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. The company has investments in Ghana, Indonesia, Venezuela, Tunisia and Malaysia totalling billions.
The contract, which lasted for a matter of months, is the first to have been obtained by outside sources, and the first piece of evidence that Blair has done work for a Middle Eastern oil firm. The text states that both Blair and members of him team would source potential investors, and personally make ““introductions to the senior political leadership, industrial policymakers, corporate entities and other persons in China identified and deemed by us and you to be relevant to PetroSaudi’s international strategy”.
The emergence of the contract raises renewed questions over the suitability of Blair’s appointment as Middle East envoy. “The fact this was kept a secret, or was intended to be kept secret, was a mistake,” said Oliver Miles, a former ambassador to Libya. Miles has called for Blair to be removed as envoy and disclose all of his commercial interests in the region. He was amongst the signatories of a letter in June which claimed that Blair’s intervention in Iraq and lack of transparency in his dealings made him unsuitable for the role.
This incident is also likely to lead to allegations that he is cashing in on his contacts in the region following the Iraqi war, and the quashing of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of corruption over a multibillion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
Responding to news of the contract, a senior PetroSaudi source said “[Blair] has got deep ties to the Middle East and that is how we got to know him. We know a lot of people in common and they put us in touch. It was a confidential engagement to help us develop business in China.”
A spokesman from Blair’s office has said that the deal was only “for a period of months” and had nothing to do with the Middle East.