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Tony Blair 'courted Chinese politicians for Saudi oil firm'

Former British prime minister aided entry of company part-owned by Prince Turki bin Abdullah into Chinese markets, according to report
Tony Blair's company was paid $65,000 monthly for work with PetroSaudi (AFP)

Tony Blair helped facilitate the entry of a Saudi prince's company into China while the former British prime minister was working as peace negotiator in the Middle East, according to reports.

Emails seen by the Guardian reportedly show how Blair courted influential Chinese politicians in 2010 and then introduced them to the Saudi-owned company he worked with, PetroSaudi.

PetroSaudi is a London-based company co-owned by Prince Turki bin Abdullah, son of Saudi Arabia’s king Abdullah, who died in January 2015.

The documents reportedly show that Blair's company, Tony Blair Associates (TBA), was paid $65,000 a month and a 2 percent commission for its role.

The emails also show that Blair arranged a meeting between the chairman of the China National Petroleum Corp. and PetroSaudi. However, he did not arrange deals as he is not certified by the the Financial Services Authority.

PetroSaudi explained in the emails that Blair’s team could not arrange deals “as this could deem TB to be carrying out regulated activities. Certain people at FSA are out to get him. In summary, TBA has said TB will assist in delivering transactions but cannot have it on paper that this might be the case (which no doubt still causes potential problems with the FSA).”

There is no suggestion that Blair or PetroSaudi acted improperly. A spokesman for the former prime minister told the Guardian: “His role was made known to the regulators … and he has never undertaken any activity other than making introductions. He does not do ‘deals’.”

But the disclosures could raise questions about his private business interests and potential conflicts of interests when he was the Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia.

In a statement, Blair’s spokesperson said: “As we have made clear many times before, there was no conflict between any commercial work and the work on the Palestinian economy and institutions which Tony Blair did in an unpaid role for the Quartet.

"The work Tony Blair Associates did for PetroSaudi International Ltd, which is based in the UK, was undertaken five years ago for a limited period of a few months and was completely unrelated to the Middle East.

“It is ludicrous to suggest that we would use PetroSaudi for anything related to Quartet work, and our contract with them clearly stipulated that this could not occur."