Tony Blair has announced that he is closing down his controversial consulting business to focus instead on working for free.
The former Prime Minister issued a statement on his website to reveal that the “substantial reserves” built up by ‘Tony Blair Associates’ (TBA) will now be handed to not-for-profit work.
Around £8m will be “gifted” to his non-profit ventures, a source told HuffPost UK. The money will go to his Africa Governance Initiative, his Faith Foundation, and his Initiative for the Middle East .
Since leaving office he has also donated around £10m to charity, including the proceeds of his best-selling memoir to the Royal British Legion.
But Blair has also come under fire for the way he has built up his personal wealth and used his global contacts to win business for his consultancy and advice firm.
In his statement, he said that he would 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”
That leaves open the prospect that 20% of his time will go on profit-making activities.
The opaque nature of his organisations and their work has been heavily criticised in recent years, amid claims that he has been advising governments with poor human rights records.
TBA spent six years advising the Kazakhstan government and its autocratic president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and was said to have asked for huge sums from Gulf states in recent years.
The statement reads: “Tony Blair has formally announced to staff his decision to close Tony Blair Associates and wind up the Firerush and Windrush structures.
“He 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.”
Over the past nine years, he built a group of organisations employing around 200 people and working in more than 20 different countries round the world.
Blair has always insisted that his various companies operate transparently and properly and his charitable ventures on building inter-faith projects and sports have been praised for their work.
The ex-PM supports all of his African, faith and Middle East non-profits on a pro bono basis and raises funds for them. He’s personally funded the work of his Sports Foundation for some time.
HuffPost understands that he gathered his staff in person last week to inform them of his decision and followed up with an email.
TBA’s offices in Grosvenor Square will be closed and a slimmed down operation will relocate.
Only earlier this year, TBA was reported to have asked in 2014 for a fee of $35m to build the brand and influence of Gulf State UAE.
The plan was heavily criticised as Blair has spent years as a ‘Middle East peace envoy’.
The ex-PM was earlier this year slated by the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, which found that he failed to exhaust all diplomatic options before launching the conflict with George Bush.
In his statement about his future arrangements, he said on Tuesday: “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.”