Tony Blair is facing calls for greater transparency in his role as Middle East peace
envoy after it emerged that he visited Muammar Gaddafi in 2009 while JP
Morgan, the investment bank that employs Blair as a £2m-a-year
adviser, sought to negotiate a multibillion-pound loan from Libya.
Blair also championed two large business
deals in the West Bank and Gaza involving telecoms and gas extraction which stood to benefit corporate clients of
JP Morgan, according to a Dispatches investigation to be broadcast on Monday night.
Blair, who represents the diplomatic
Quartet on the Middle East – the US, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – flew to see the former Libyan
leader in January 2009 as JP Morgan tried to finalise a deal for the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) to loan a multibillion-pound
sum to Rusal, the aluminium company run by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
LIA was set up by Gaddafi to manage
the country's wealth and was estimated to be worth $64bn (£41bn) last September.
Emails obtained by anti-corruption
campaign group Global Witness and seen by the Guardian reveal JP Morgan's vice chairman, Lord Renwick, invited the then vice
chairman of LIA, Mustafa Zarti, to "finalise the terms of the mandate concerning Rusal before Mr Blair's visit to Tripoli
which is scheduled to take place on around 22 January".
The meeting went ahead, but a spokesman
for Blair denied the former prime minister had been involved in the proposed Rusal deal. A spokesman for JP Morgan said Blair
had no knowledge of the proposal but could not explain why Blair's visit to Gaddafi was raised in the email.
"Neither Tony Blair nor any of his
staff raised any issue to do with a Russian aluminium company," Blair's spokesman said. According to a Rusal presentation
obtained by Global Witness, the aluminium company had been seeking a $4.5bn loan in the form of a convertible bond, but the
deal never happened.
In Palestine while working as the quartet
envoy, Blair persuaded the Israeli government to open radio frequencies so mobile phone company Wataniya could operate in
the West Bank. The company's owner, Qtel, a Qatari telecoms company, is a client of JP Morgan and its deal to buy Wataniya
was funded with a $2bn loan that JP Morgan helped arrange.
"I would say his [Blair's] prime contribution
to Wataniya was negotiating the release of the frequencies," Bassam Hannoun, Wataniya's chief executive, told Dispatches.
"That was a milestone. November 2009 we were nothing ... and since then we have done fantastically well. We have captured
23% of the market."
The second deal saw Blair champion
the development of a gas field off the coast of Gaza as a priority for the territory. The owner of the rights to operate the
field is BG
Group, a client of JP Morgan.
"There seems to be growing evidence
that Tony Blair's business activities across the middle east may be in conflict with his peace envoy role," said Robert Palmer,
a spokesman for Global Witness. "It is time he came clean about all of his interests in the region and who they are benefitting."
A spokesman for Blair said the former
prime minister had no idea JP Morgan had connections with Wataniya or BG Group and said it considered claims of a conflict
of interest to be defamatory.
"Tony Blair has advocated for both
the Wataniya project and the Gaza gas development at the direct request of the Palestinians," a spokesman said. "It is his
responsibility as Quartet representative to work to build the Palestinian economy and the Wataniya project represented the
single largest foreign direct investment there has been into the Palestinian authority. That is good news for the Palestinians.
The fact that we have been doing so is hardly a revelation: it is listed on our website. Both were long-standing demands of
the international community. "In neither case was Mr Blair even aware JP Morgan had a connection with the company. He never
discussed it with them. They never raised it with him."
JP Morgan stressed it was one of several
investment banks who acted as advisers to Qtel and said it had a minor role.
"Mr. Blair is a strategic advisor to
our management team on high-level geopolitical issues and trends," a spokesman said. "We have never raised or discussed with
him the two projects mentioned. Any suggestion of a conflict of interest is baseless."
Since leaving Downing Street in June
2007, Blair has established various structures for his commercial work and good causes. He has established three charities,
the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Tony Blair Sports Foundation and the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative. On the
commercial side, he runs a consultancy, Tony Blair Associates, and he has paid advisory roles with Zurich, a Swiss insurer,
as well as JP Morgan.