London: Tony Blair has more than £13 million stashed in the bank following his most commercially successful year since quitting Downing Street. The latest accounts for a network of companies used to run his growing business empire show the former British prime minister's business interests around the world are booming.
Profits at one company alone, which he owns, totalled almost £2 million while shareholder funds on two businesses total £7 million. The accounts, for the 12 months to April 2013 and which were lodged at Companies House last week, give the best indication yet of Blair's earning power.
His wealth, including a London town house, a country estate and several other properties, is estimated at £70 million. The latest accounts do not give a full picture of Blair's assets but suggest he has had a "bumper" year, according to one City accountant who has analysed the figures. Blair administers his commercial empire through a complex series of companies and partnerships, headed by two businesses — Windrush Ventures Limited and Firerush Ventures Limited.
The companies were set up by the former prime minister when he left office. Through the companies, Blair runs his global consultancies. It is understood that Windrush Ventures channels money for Blair's Government Advisory Practice, which advises national and regional governments on how to implement policies and reforms in a model based on his time in Downing Street. Firerush Ventures administers the funding for Tony Blair Associates, which advises companies and sovereign wealth funds.
The fullest picture comes from the accounts for Windrush Ventures Limited, which show it enjoyed a turnover of £14.9 million for the 12 months to April 1 2013 and a profit after tax of almost £2 million, a rise of £650,000 on the previous year. Cash in the bank and "in hand" totals £8.8 million, up from £1.5 million the previous year. Windrush employs 35 people and has a total wage bill of close to £3 million, almost £1 million more than last year. Blair's staff earn an average of £86,000, while the company's highest paid director receives £273,000.
That director is thought to be either Catherine Rimmer, Blair's chief of staff and a former Downing Street aide, or else David Lyon, a former Barclays investment banker who was recruited by Blair in 2012 to "grow and develop" Blair's business activities. The accounts show that Windrush paid corporation tax on its profits of £653,000. Although the company generated turnover of almost £15 million, it paid tax on only a fraction of that because £12.1 million was paid out in expenses, to cover the cost of office rents, travel and hotel bills for Blair and his team.
The tax was paid out — quite legitimately — on only the company's profits. Accounts for another of Blair's linked companies, called Windrush Ventures No1 Limited, disclose that Blair lent his own company £1.24 million in 2012 at a commercial rate of 5.5 per cent.
The accounts show Blair was repaid the loan in December 2012 "with applicable loan interest".
It is not clear why Blair lent his own company the money but he earned interest on the deal of £75,000 in the course of the year. Firerush Ventures Limited also enjoyed a bumper year. It is a smaller company than Windrush and as a consequence is not required by law to give as much detail about the state of its finances. But the accounts show cash at the bank and in hand totalling £4.6 million, up from £1.2 million the previous year, and shareholder funds worth £1.6 million.
The two companies between them had cash of £13.4 million and shareholder funds worth £7 million. Blair is the ultimate owner of the businesses. Blair has earned a fortune since leaving office and has taken to flying around the world in a £30 million private jet, which he charters on a regular basis.
He is an official adviser to JP Morgan, the investment bank, and to Zurich International, the Swiss-based global insurance company. But he and his team also advise wealthy governments such as oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan, presided over by its autocratic ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev. That deal, worth millions of pounds, has attracted criticism. Blair also has deals with mineral-rich Mongolia, with governments in Latin America and also in some Gulf states. He is a regular visitor to China and the US and can earn as much as £250,000 a time for private speeches and appearances.
Blair insists he does not make as much money as he could because he uses his profits from his commercial dealings to fund his philanthropic activities. He runs two global charities — a faith foundation and a not-for-profit organisation advising African governments — whose accounts are filed separately.
One City accountant, who has studied Blair's accounts, said, "These numbers are a big improvement on last year. Mr Blair has had a very good year. This is a bumper year — his best year yet."
In a statement on his website, The Office of Tony Blair said, "These are the financial statements of the two companies through which the operating costs of the Tony Blair group's global activities are paid. They do not represent his earnings or the earnings or the profit of his businesses and are not referable to them." The statement explains that Windrush is holding a surplus "for reinvestment in expanding the business".
"As a smaller company Firerush only publishes abbreviated accounts. It is a company that is solely for administering the costs of the business."
The £1.5 million surplus for the financial year therefore represents the running costs and money retained for reinvestment in the business; on which corporation tax is paid.
"Full corporation tax is paid by all the businesses. The money made by Mr Blair from the Windrush and Firerush businesses is not published in these accounts; it is though, subject to full personal income tax. Mr Blair continues to be a UK taxpayer and pays full personal tax on all his earnings worldwide."
The Sunday Telegraph