Memo to media; Tony Blair isn’t a Mid-East expert, he just loves making money

Indeed (via the Guardian):

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.