Tony Blair has set up his own "finance boutique" for the super-rich,people,news,tony-blair-laughing-all-the-way-to-his-own-bank?DCMP=NLC-people
 Tony Blair – laughing all the way to his own bank
 Rich enough to give away his book proceeds and open an investment bank

 So that’s where Tony Blair's famous 'journey' was heading. Days after he announced that he was donating the proceeds of his autobiography to charity, the Sunday Times has learned that Tony Blair has set up his own "finance boutique" for the super-rich.

        The Mayfair-based company, called Firerush Ventures No 3, has been authorised by the Financial Services Authority and has hired several senior financiers. The Sunday Times claims it will "effectively be a fledgling investment bank".

        The company was originally one of a number of firms that the former Prime Minister set up to oversee the finances of his consultancy firm, Tony Blair Associates, but can now broker deals for other clients.

        Blair's reputation for cronyism is enhanced by a look at the names of those working for Firerush. They include his former aide Jo Gibbins and Catherine Rimmer, who worked in the research unit at Downing Street during his tenure. Jonathan Powell, Blair's former chief of staff, is also registered at the FSA for Firerush.

        Varun Chandra, who was a senior figure at Lehmann Brothers, the US bank that collapsed in 2008, has been recruited.

        Blair's move into high finance should be a lucrative one and, according to the cynics, goes some way to explaining why he was able to donate the £4m - £5m he was set to make from his memoir, A Journey, to the Royal British Legion.

        As Sophie Elmhirst blogs for the New Statesman: "There's that sense - just as there was when he was in office - of a gulf between the external presentation and the inner reality. He gives a highly publicised donation, and on the quiet, registers an investment vehicle in Mayfair."

        His reputation among his former supporters will sink even lower if early accounts about the book prove to be correct. The News of the World reports that those who have seen drafts of A Journey describe it as "a love letter" to President George W Bush.

        "It is the biggest and most unapologetic defence of Bush and his ideas ever written," said a former aide. "If people are expecting him to say sorry they'll be disappointed." []

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