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At UN, Tony Blair Scoffs At His $1 Million JPMorgan Job, But Conflict of Interest Safeguards Not Seen

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- Tony Blair as in the UN on Friday, as part of the Middle East Quartet. He is working for the UN, while also having private sector engagements, such as a $1 million a year job with JPMorgan Chase, a bank which just benefited from the subprime meltdown by scooping up the assets of Washington Mutual's savings bank at the fire sale cost of only $1.9 billion. On September 25, Blair's successor as UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, spoke at length at the UN about financial matters. While US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson did not find time to meet with Brown -- it's been billed as Snub-Gate II -- President Bush did meet on the topic with Brown on Friday, as well as taking a call from France's Nicolas Sarkozy.  So it is not unreasonable that Blair would be willing to answer a financial question at the UN on Friday.

  But not, apparently, if the question concerns a possible conflict of interest. For months, Inner City Press has asked the UN Secretariat, including Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, about the possible conflict of working for a financial firm as well as for the UN.

Blair, pensive or praying -- where is JPMorgan Chase in his thoughts?

These questions were initially about only Tony Blair -- "ask Blair," the Spokesperson said -- but have widened to include Australia's Alexander Downer, with a financial consultancy while being the UN's envoy to Cyprus.

  As Blair was leaving the UN's Quarter meeting, Inner City Press asked him, "That JP Morgan Chase job, do you still have it?"  Blair looked incredulous and let out an audible scoff. One of his assistants indicated that yes, Blair still has the job. And then they were gone.

But the issue will continue to be pursued.

Watch this site, and this Sept. 18 (UN) debate.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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