Despite the global financial crisis that’s hitting individuals and companies the world over, there are some who remain unaffected, recording record profits.
Recently filed Companies House records show that Tony Blair Inc’s income rose by over 40% last year to more than £12m. It is channeled through a complex network of firms and partnerships, which makes it difficult to trace where it is originating from or how it is being spent.
Windrush Ventures Ltd, an obscure company that operates under the trading name “the Office of Tony Blair”, saw its turnover rise to just over £12m, up from £8.5m in 2010, with pre-tax profits rising from £729,000 to £1.1m.
Accountancy expert Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK, said “”It is baffling; these accounts make remarkably little sense.
“This limited disclosure is not within the spirit of the law. ”
Tax Research UK scrutinises company finances. Blair’s companies and partnerships are taking advantage of laws that allow him to limit what is disclosed, meaning the accounts do not go into detail. For example, accounts reveal that Windrush Ventures 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. Also, 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 advisory roles for a number of companies including luxury goods firm LVMH and Swiss insurer Zurich, as well as having 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.
A spokesman of Blair 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.”