Tony Blair Promises To Close Business Empire And Work For Charity

Tony Blair
Adam Bettcher/Getty

LONDON (Reuters) – Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who built a multi-million pound business network advising multi-national corporations and governments after leaving office in 2007, said on Tuesday he was planning to close his commercial ventures and concentrate on not-for-profit activities.

He said he would donate the “substantial financial reserves” of the businesses, Tony Blair Associates (TBA) and his Windrush and Firerush structures, to non-profit work.

Blair, 63, was Labour prime minister for 10 years from 1997 and was later a Middle East envoy for eight years.

He has been widely criticised for dealing with undemocratic governments, including that of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose human rights records have come under fire.

In an email to staff released by his office Blair said the restructuring reflected changes that had been under way in his organisation for the last two years. He did not elaborate.

“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,” he said in the email.

“It is time to take this to a new level.”

He said he would retain a small number of personal consultancies for his income, but that 80 percent of his time would now be spent on the non-profit side.

“I want now to concentrate the vast bulk of my time on the not-for-profit work which we do,” he said. “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.

“The substantial reserves that TBA has accumulated will be gifted to the Not For Profit work.”

The not-for-profit ventures include Blair’s Faith Foundation and the Centre for Geopolitics and Religion, which focuses on addressing the root causes of Islamist extremism.

The full extent of Blair’s business activities has never been disclosed but 2015 accounts for Windrush published in January this year showed turnover up by more than a third to 19.4 million pounds, while profits trebled to 2.6 million pounds.

Blair and his wife Cherie also have extensive property investments in London.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Richard Balmforth)