In February 2021, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change called on policymakers to tax land and houses more heavily. As early as 1994, while campaigning for the leadership of the British Labor Party, Tony Blair himself regretted that wealthy persons escaped tax: “For those who can employ good accountants, the tax system is a haven of scams, advantages and profits,” he said during a speech in the West Midlands, England. “We must not make our tax rules a playground for tax abusers who pay little or nothing, while others pay more than their share.”
The Pandora Papers reveal, however, that in 2017, Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, became owners in London of a Victorian building worth $8.8 million where they housed the law firm of Cherie Blair.
But for that, they did not buy the building. They bought out the shares of the British Virgin Islands company which owned the property, and which was owned by the family of Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani.
By taking control of this company rather than buying the building itself, the Blairs benefited from a legal arrangement that saved them from having to pay more than $400,000 in property taxes in England.
Solicited, Cherie Blair said her husband was not involved in the transaction, and that its objective was to comply “with the UK tax and regulatory regime”. As for the Al Zayani, they claim that their “companies have complied with all British laws past and present“.