Guinea Hires Law Firm, Currently Being Sued for Padding Its Bills, to Conduct Review of Mining Contracts

Guinea has contracted with a “global” law firm by the name of DLA Piper to review mining contracts. Its website says it has 4,200 lawyers and it does business in over 30 countries. DLA Piper is being sued by a client for padding its bills.

Tony Blair must be the “agent” who connected DLA Piper with Conde, especially since, before the contract with Guinea, the firm did not have any business dealings in Africa.

Two articles follow:

Government of Guinea picks DLA Piper to review mining contracts

by City A.M. Reporter

March 28, 2013, 2:57am

GUINEA has chosen global law firm DLA Piper and three other advisers to help review and, if need be, renegotiate mining contracts signed by previous governments, the head of the review body told Reuters.

The review, pledged by President Alpha Conde after he came to power in 2010, will scrutinise contracts with companies such as BHP Billiton, Vale, Rio Tinto, Rusal and BSGR to ensure the mineral-rich but impoverished West African state is benefiting sufficiently from deals. Guinean officials have criticised a lack of openness when the contracts were signed, particularly those agreed during the two years of military rule before Conde’s 2010 election

“Our objective is to point out to our partners areas in their contracts where the country is at a flagrant disadvantage, and discuss openly with them,” Nava Toure said.

Guinea is the world’s top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite and is also home to the Simandou iron ore deposit held by Rio Tinto and BSGR.

3/27/2013 @ 11:25AM |6,381 views

Apology Fail in DLA Piper Legal Billing Scandal

Victoria Pynchon Victoria Pynchon, Contributor

There are some good lawyers

The billable hour is the monster inside the law business. Thanks to dogged discovery efforts by a former DLA Piper client, the monster has broken out of its lair and is standing, somewhat mortified but proud and unbowed, in the media’s cross-hairs.

If you’ve been on vacation, here are billing emails discovered in a lawsuit between (depending on your side of the case) a deadbeat client and an upstanding law firm or a virtuous businessman and his rapacious lawyers.

“I hear we are already 200k over our estimate — that’s Team DLA Piper!” wrote Erich P. Eisenegger, a lawyer at the firm. Another DLA Piper lawyer, Christopher Thomson, replied, noting that a third colleague, Vincent J. Roldan, had been enlisted to work on the matter. “Now Vince has random people working full time on random research projects in standard ‘churn that bill, baby!’ mode,” Mr. Thomson wrote. “That bill shall know no limits.”

I don’t know who Piper’s crisis PR team is but I’d hire a new advisor. When you’ve been caught with your pants down in a public space, you do not rush to blame the alleged victim, you do not say the written evidence doesn’t reflect the facts on the ground, you do not demonize the “former attorneys” who created the evidence, and, you do not assert your firm’s integrity (having recently housed the miscreants whose behavior belies that claim).

Continue to read article in full.


Mining and Agriculture: Guinea Plans to Launch Stock Exchange within Two Years


Guinea plans to launch stock exchange within two years

By: Reuters

19th March 2013

Updated 20 minutes ago

ABIDJAN – Resource-rich Guinea plans to launch a stock exchange within the next two years to raise financing for its struggling mining sector, a senior central bank official said on Monday.

The West African nation is already the world’s leading exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite and is seeking to develop other mining potential including the Simandou mine, one of the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits.

“Guinea is an important mining and agricultural country … There is a financing problem. Traditional financing through the banks is no longer effective,” said Mamady Fofana, director of lending for the central bank.

“So we must find other methods both to finance these companies and for the country’s growth,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan.

Fofana said that Guinea’s government was in the process of creating a shortlist of companies to be traded on the new exchange. “We’ll start with a maximum of 10 companies, mainly from the mining sector as well as a few industrial firms and banks,” he said.

He declined to name any potential candidates.

Guinea has been plagued by political instability and corrupt leadership for much of its history since gaining independence from France in 1958. Despite its abundant mineral wealth, it remains one of the world’s poorest nations.

Economic growth has been held back by uncertainty surrounding the delay of parliamentary elections, the government said. Its economy grew by 3.9 percent last year, roughly one percentage point less than forecast.

Miners BHP Billiton, Vale and Russia’s RUSAL have begun backing away from planned investments, partly because of a government review of mining contracts.

Guinea’s government last week dismissed concerns raised over the future of Rio Tinto’s Simandou mine after the company’s CEO asked for confirmation of the state’s financial contribution to the project’s infrastructure.

Edited by: Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, Expected in Guinea Today

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 2:14 p.m.

From Kaba Bachir\

Diplomacy: The Russian Foreign minister expected in Conakry on Wednesday

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov is expected Wednesday in Conakry in the context of bilateral cooperation between Conakry and Moscow kabanews learned from diplomatic sources.

During his stay in Conakry, the Russian diplomat will hold talks first his Guinean counterpart, François Fall Louceiny then with President Alpha Condé, with whom he will discuss several current issues including bilateral cooperation between the two countries. They will eventually address the issue of Rusal in the case of the mining project and Friguia Dian Dian the Russians intend to invest.

The diplomat’s visit comes at a particular socio-political context, dominated by the funeral ceremony of 11 Guinean soldiers who perished in a plane crash Monday near Monrovia, Liberia.

On the political level, the standoff between government and opposition on how to organize elections, continues.

It remains to be seen if diplomatic pressure could bring both sides (government and opposition) a compromise to avoid a new crisis looming on the horizon.

We will return

Abdul Wahab Barry Kabanews

Guinea Mining: Alpha Conde and His Viceroy, Tony Blair



Further below you will find an article by Jim Armitage which appeared in the January 26, 2013, issue of the Independent. Armitage is wondering, along with many others, why Blair is making so many trips to Guinea and what might he have up his sleeve. Armitage says Blair’s primary problem is that he has difficulty telling the difference between his charity money pot and his business proceeds. Unfortunately, Armitage is not as clued in about Conde as evidenced by his repeated and cheerful assessments about Conde’s intentions to clean up the dirty world of Guinean mining.

Blair swooped into Africa aboard an African Governance Initiative project that fooled no one. Initially, he dithered around the continent, but it was not long before Guinea became his African home base. As a result, Tony Blair has become Conde’s mining “wing man,” and goodness knows, he needs one. Blair remains in the background “advising” Conde on mining issues and serving as Conde’s emissary to high-powered, snake-eating international law firms to procure legal services for the nasty business of negotiating deals. But, if Guinea is to have Blair’s intimate participation in the mining business, it had better search him upon departures from Gbessia-Conakry airport.

Blair’s last trip to Guinea was just a few days before Conde headed off to Davos, Switzerland, to the World Economic Forum (WEF). While it’s not possible to know for sure what was discussed, one thing is clear – Blair prepared Conde to search for his softer, more gentle side to soothe ruffled mining company feathers. Specifically, Conde needed to make nice and try to repair tenuous relationships with RUSAL and Vale. Little was seen of Conde at WEF, but his newfound, cooperative attitude was captured in interviews with Bloomberg and RFI. Being on the international stage gave Conde the “bump” he needed with the international community. In fact, his interviews went so well, the West might convince itself that Conde is, indeed, redeemable, which is why Conde’s “wing man” prepped him so well and why Conde went to the WEF meeting in the first place.

Yet, many in the mining world express the concern that Conde is increasingly distancing himself from his mining ministry as deals are negotiated and sealed. Assume that Blair, perfect for the role of as a British Rasputin, is succeeding in isolating Conde and increasingly calling the shots himself.

Finally, it looks like Blair is earning his pay in at least one corner of the world: India. Guinea’s Minister of Industry, Rama Bah, just returned from a conference there a few days ago. In an interview, she said Guinea is ready to offer land and mineral resources on lease for development to Indian firms. Since Guinea located an embassy in India just last year, it looks like engaging India has been in the cards for a while. As the former prime minister of the country that was once India’s colonial overseer, Blair was certainly the front man on this deal. The perennial question remains: when Guinea cuts deals concerning its precious resources, will the people ever benefit?


Jim Armitage: Blair’s repeated Guinea trips raise eyebrows over his connections

Global Outlook: It is his mixture of charity and business that can leave questions to be answered

Jim Armitage Author Biography

Saturday 26 January 2013

Here’s a challenge for you. Find a blank map of the continent of Africa and point to Guinea.

If you can do that with no difficulty whatsoever, then good on you. If you can’t, you’re in the majority, I’m sure. If you got in the ballpark of Senegal, Sierra Leone, that kind of area, you’ve done well.

The point is, Guinea is barely ever in the news, even with the current upsurge of interest in its neighbour, Mali. To all intents and purposes, it’s hardly what one might call a high-profile geopolitical hub.

So it’s perhaps more than a little strange that Tony Blair has visited no fewer than six times since the summer of 2011. Most recently on a flying visit on 13 January to meet the president en route to Sierra Leone. Continue reading “Guinea Mining: Alpha Conde and His Viceroy, Tony Blair”

Who Owns Guinea’s Bauxite? Certainly Not Those to Whom It Belongs — The People

Having more bauxite than any other country on the planet, is it any wonder that mining companies from four continents breathlessly bang on Guinea’s door to get a piece of the action? If you add the sleight-of-hand management of the industry by Conde , his son, and assorted mining ministry schemers and top it off with “guidance” from flim-flam artist and Iraq war criminal, Tony Blair, how the hell could the people of Guinea receive any benefit?

The following article is from Deutsche Welle as well as the above video.


November 22, 2012

Who owns Guinea’s bauxite?

No other country has as much bauxite as Guinea-Conakry. The government is planning a new law to secure 30 percent of shares in the mines, against the wishes of foreign investors.

With a proud smile on his face, supervisor James Camara points to one of his excavators with a rotating shovel that is digging deep into the earth. The machine does three jobs. It first takes the rock out of the ground, then crushes it and loads it on to a truck. Camara says up to 750 tons of rock per hour can be extracted. “That’s enough for seven truckloads.”

The trucks belong to the Moscow-based company Rusal which also owns the Balandou mine in Debele, a small town in the region of Kindia in the west of the country. Mangroves and mango trees grow around the open mine. The earth is red and smells burnt. Within it lies Guinea’s greatest treasure – the aluminum ore bauxite.

No processing industry in Guinea

The red earth contains Guinea’s greatest treasure

Trucks take the bauxite earth to the station where it is loaded on to freight trains which take it to the provincial capital Kindia. It will then leave the port of Conakry to travel by ship to Ukraine. There aluminum is produced from bauxite and exported all over the world. In Guinea itself, there is still no industry to transform the red treasure into the coveted metal, even after 53 years of independence.

With a new mining law, the government plans to increase the benefits from the mining business. In September 2011, the National Transitional Council approved the new law. The idea is for the state to get up to a 30 percent share of the mines which make large profits from the extraction of bauxite and iron.

Enforcing this law is not easy as most of the mining companies are owned by foreign companies. The Guinean government is currently negotiating with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund about now it can be implemented. They do not want to violate international law and scare off foreign investors, many of whom are already apprehensive.

Pavel Vassiliev, Africa representative of the Russian company Rusal, sees the mining companies adversely affected by the new law.

“Given the global crisis in the aluminum sector, a number of investors have already seen no alternative but to leave Guinea,” said Vassiliev.

A fraction of profits for the people

Neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia have already fought for greater shares in the extraction of their resources.

But so far Guineans have had little benefit from their country’s mineral wealth. About 200,000 people live in the provincial capital Kindia, less than an hour’s drive from the mines. Even from far away the green hills that frame the city can be seen.

At the provincial administrative office in Kindia the corridors are in total darkness because there is no electricity. The officials are all middle-aged. Thick layers of dust cover the files. An agreement between Guinea and the mine operators states that Rusal should give back 0.01 percent of the profits from its bauxite production – which is about one US dollar (77 euro cents) per ton. This money was supposed to go to the province, but for a long time now nothing has come in, says provincial administrator Dramane Conde. “This is not the fault of Rusal. The army came to power in 2008 and people did not want the money to go to unauthorized channels,” he said. The company had been waiting for democratic structures to become established before releasing the funds.

Struggle for lost wealth

Rusal is now investing and making a direct contribution to the region. In 2012 the company paid 350,000 euros to supply two villages with electricity. One of them is Mambia, a small community of mud houses which lies between the mines and the capital, Conakry. In addition to bauxite mining, the people here live mainly from agriculture. The green leaves of the cassava plant shine in the fields. “Rusal has built schools, a health center and has brought electricity to the village,” says community leader Kande Oumar Camara. “That has been a great help for people with small businesses.”

But for many politicians that is not enough. They want as much as possible of the bauxite profits to remain in the country. According to Ousmane Kaba, Minister for Strategic Issues, Rusal should dig deep into its pockets. “First of all, the mines belong to Guinea,” he says. Currently there are differences of opinion with Rusal. Preliminary studies had shown that Rusal should transfer almost a billion dollars to Guinea – for payments not made.

Bauxite for development?

The biggest problem for Conakry, however, is that the law can not be applied retroactively. That means that the major raw material deals of recent years, in which foreign companies have secured thick slices of the bauxite cake for themselves, are not affected.

But the bauxite, which will be extracted at the Balandou mine in Debele and elsewhere, could soon make a greater contribution to Guinea’s development. If the state would ensure that the mining revenue does not end up in dark channels but, for example, is used to build better roads, then the new mining law would benefit the Guinean people.

GUINEA MINING: Oh, What a Tangled Web is Weaved, When Alpha Conde and His South African Buddies Practice to Deceive


John Helmer, Dances with Bears, June 13, 2012 7:29 am


Guinean officials who have tried to persuade Conde to continue the reforms initiated by former Mining Minister Mahmoud Thiam had hoped the new code would establish a transparent foundation for renegotiation of many of the Guinean resource deals. Those have enriched the country’s rulers, deprived the country of taxes and investment, and left its resources in the ground. The reformers suspect Conde of appearing to endorse the public goals while secretly bargaining for private gains to be channelled through newly created entities backed by fresh alliances. Sexwale, said a Conakry source, “and the South African gang were [President Conde’s] business partners through the ANC [African National Congress, the ruling South African political party] from before he became president. There is that trust and an agreement to do business that predates everything.”

MOSCOW—A group of South Africans, led by Tokyo Sexwale, has devised a scheme to take over mineral assetsand mining concessions in the west African republic of Guinea, which the government plans to renationalize after revoking deals struck by previous Guinean governments. The Sexwale scheme is a growing threat to Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal in Guinea, as the offers Deripaska has proposed to Guinean President Alpha Conde and his family miss their mark.

On the eve of Rusal’s annual general meeting of shareholders in Hong Kong, due on June 15, there has been no fresh warning to Rusal shareholders that their Guinean bauxite mines and alumina refinery are facing confiscation, and transfer to a state mining company controlled, indirectly, by the South Africans. These Guinean assets account for more than half of Rusal’s global bauxite reserves. On last year’s production results, the Guinea bauxite mines represent 36% of Rusal’s annual bauxite production of 13.5 million tonnes; 7% of Rusal’s alumina output of 8.2 million tonnes. Both totals were down below past-year volumes.

In its latest challenge, the Guinean government charges Rusal with fraudulent under-reporting of output figures. A billion-dollar claim by the Guinean government dating back to 2009 accuses Rusal of under-counting the volume of its bauxite and alumina exports, and under-paying on taxes.

The only reference Rusal has made to the potential losses is this line in the annual financial report for 2011: “Operations in these countries involve risks that typically do not exist in other markets, including reconsideration of privatisation terms in certain countries where the Group operates following changes in governing political powers.” In its May 2012 financial report, Rusal also claims that the government’s position in the Guinean courts “has no merit and the risk of any cash outflow in connection with this claim is low and therefore no provision has been recorded in this regard in these consolidated financial statements.”

The collapse of Rusal’s position in Guinea this year is one of the targets for legal challenges against Deripaska’s management by shareholding partners, Victor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik, and Mikhail Prokhorov.

Rusal’s share price is currently fixing in the Hong Kong market at an all-time low of between HK$4.20 and HK$4.60 (54 and 59 US cents). At US$9 billion, the company’s value in the market is $2 billion less than its bank debts. The Russian government’s official and unofficial stake in the company is now worth about $2.6 billion, two and a half times less than it was worth when the Kremlin agreed to bail Rusal out of insolvency and default in November 2008; then underwrite Deripaska’s initial public offering of shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in January of 2010.

Sexwale is one of South Africa’s wealthiest black leaders, with substantial holdings in the minerals and mining sector through his Mvelaphanda Group . He is also the Minister for Human Settlements (slums) in the current South African government, a critic of President Jacob Zuma, and a potent challenger at the next presidential election in 2014.

According to sources in Johannesberg, Sexwale is discussing with Eurasian National Resources Corporation (ENRC) a plan to buy into mining interests in Guinea. London-listed ENRC is one of Kazakhstan’s dominant mining companies, producing iron-ore, ferro-alloys, copper, coal, bauxite and alumina. Although ENRC is smaller than Rusal as a global bauxite and alumina producer, if Sexwale manages to oust Deripaska from Guinea, that would change dramatically. Currently, ENRC’s market capitalization is $8.1 billion.

Sexwale is believed to be the power behind two obscure British Virgin Island vehicles, one called Palladino Holdings and another called Floras Bell, which are managed by Olaf Walter Hennig. An investigation by David Gleason in Business Day of Johannesberg reports that a year ago Hennig arranged for a loan of US$25 million to finance the start-up of a new Guinean state mining company. The new mining code, drafted by Conde’s advisors, would grant that new state entity a free 15% stake in the country’s mining projects, and the option to buy another 20%.

Behind Hennig and the $25 million loan, according to Gleason and confirmed independently by sources in Conakry, the Guinean capital, are Sexwale; Mark Willcox, the chief executive of Mvelaphanda, and several other businessmen of South African, Polish, and British extraction. One of them reported by Gleason is Ian Hannam, a City of London financier who tried to arrange Rusal’s float on the London Stock Exchange in 2007, but failed.

Guinean sources say Sexwale, Willcox and Hennig are the control shareholders of the BVI entities. A report in the Sunday Times of London in May claimed that Hennig was a “shadowy middleman”, and that the Palladino loan had been signed in April 2011 by the Guinean finance minister and a local proxy for Palladino. The terms look as if they were copied out of the Russian loans-for-shares book. If the Guinean state entity defaults on repayment of the Palladino loan, Sexwale and his pals would be eligible to convert the debt into a 30% stake in the state mining company and its assets.

A senior Guinean official says this is one of several non-transparent deals arranged by President Conde which have convinced BHP Billiton to withdraw from concessions they currently hold in Guinean bauxite and iron-ore. Rusal’s concessions are a target, the source adds, because of the personal falling-out between Conde and Deripaska chronicled here.

Guinean officials who have tried to persuaded Conde to continue the reforms initiated by former Mining Minister Mahmoud Thiam had hoped the new code would establish a transparent foundation for renegotiation of many of the Guinean resource deals. Those have enriched the country’s rulers, deprived the country of taxes and investment, and left its resources in the ground. The reformers suspect Conde of appearing to endorse the public goals while secretly bargaining for private gains to be channelled through newly created entities backed by fresh alliances. Sexwale, said a Conakry source, “and the South African gang were [President Conde’s] business partners through the ANC [African National Congress, the ruling South African political party] from before he became president. There is that trust and an agreement to do business that predates everything.”

Other Guinean sources contend the Palladino loan is illegal, because it hasn’t been ratified by the Guinean parliament; because violations of US and UK anti-corruption laws are suspected, and because the government in Conakry has pledged that in return for debt relief from the Club of Paris government creditors, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it cannot pledge or transfer national resource assets bilaterally.

“The [share] pledge made in this [Palladino loan] agreement by the Government cannot be implemented. Under Guinea’s procurement and asset disposal law, any transaction with state-owned assets with a value exceeding 800 million Guinea francs ($120,000) has to be made through a public tender process. [The Palladino loan] also violates Article 150 of the new mining code which says the same things. Perhaps the [Palladino] consortium, aware of the provisions of the mining code, part of which they may even have drafted, secured their agreement five months ahead of the release of the mining code in the hope the new law would not be retroactive. Too bad! The public procurement law overrides the mining code.”

A high Guinean source describes the Palladino scheme an “an attempt to seize the assets of the Guinean Government by the back door, on the cheap and risk free. Essentially, whoever is behind Paladino has found it easy to penetrate the higher echelons of the new Guinean administration. The $25 million loan, far from being a loan, can actually be perceived as ‘entry ticket’ or ‘signature bonus’. All the consortium has to do is bide their time seat and wait.”

An advisor in Conakry says that for Rusal to wait for Conde’s relationship with Deripaska to improve plays into the South Africans’ hands now. “Deripaska and Conde had a marriage of convenience that worked in the beginning and each side thought it would extract maximum value for very little in return. Neither was able to deliver to the other’s expectations.”

Guinea Mining – More Characters than an Italian Opera: Alpha Conde, Tony Blair, Oleg Deripaska, African Governance Initiative, Mubadala Dev. Corp., RUSAL, Global Witness, JP Morgan . . .

Next time, Guinea Oye! will provide a libretto.
Tony Blair with Alpha Conde, the president of Guinea Photo: AFP/GETTY
Tony Blair has added to his burgeoning African empire.  The former prime minister can count himself as an official adviser to the president of Guinea, a hot steamy republic in west Africa in possession of vast mineral resources.
Robert Mendick

By , Chief reporter

8:30AM GMT 11 Mar 2012

The agreement coincides with a deal to explore new mining opportunities signed by the government of Guinea and a Middle East investment fund, which also employs Mr Blair as an adviser on business matters.

That contract potentially opens Mr Blair up to accusations of a conflict of interest — as an adviser to both parties.

Guinea is the fourth state in Africa — after Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone — to invite Mr Blair and his entourage into government. The formal partnership between Guinea and Mr Blair’s charity, the African Governance Initiative (AGI), was sealed at the end of last year after six months of negotiation.

Mr Blair can now include Alpha Conde on his list of African rulers with whom he is close. Mr Conde, a political science professor, came to power in 2010, the first time Guinea had elected its president freely and fairly since gaining independence from France more than 50 years ago.

Guinea, despite being one of the poorest and most corrupt countries on earth, may prove to be the jewel in AGI’s crown. After years of brutal, dictatorial rule, Guinea, which has a population of just 10 million in an area the size of the UK, has huge potential for growth.

Guinea is the world’s biggest producer of bauxite, used to make aluminium, and is set to become the third largest source of iron ore. There are also significant deposits of diamonds, gold and uranium. Bauxite reserves are estimated at 25 billion tons while there are a further four billion tons of iron ore.

AGI is currently deploying a team on the ground in Guinea’s ramshackle capital Conakry to instil good governance among its ministers and bureaucrats. Significantly, it will also involve itself in attracting foreign investors.

AGI’s website boasts of the charity’s determination “to attract the sustainable investment to build strong economies for the future”. One West African diplomatic source told The Sunday Telegraph: “AGI’s dealings are part business and part charity. While some people in his organisation are pushing the shepherding bit of his operation, others are doing business on the mineral resources side of things.”

A source in Guinea praised Mr Blair’s efforts. “I believe their commitment is genuine,” said the source. “In Guinea, it has already led to improvements in decision-making and coordination of policy.”

Mubadala Development Company, a £20 billion sovereign wealth fund set up by the Abu Dhabi government, signed the “collaboration agreement” with Guinea in November. It includes investing in new bauxite and iron ore mines.

Mubadala is well known to Mr Blair. His private consultancy Tony Blair Associates has been a paid adviser to the company since 2009.

It has been speculated that Mr Blair, who has seven properties to run including a town house in London and a country estate in Buckinghamshire, earns around £1 million a year from Mubadala, although a source at the company suggested that sum was too high.

There is no evidence that as an unpaid adviser to the Guinean government, Mr Blair or his team were in any way involved in the Mubadala agreement with Guinea. Nor is there any suggestion that Mr Blair has profited personally from the deal.

On Mr Blair’s role in Mubadala, a spokesman for the fund said: “He is one of many valued advisers on business matters to Abu Dhabi.

“Tony Blair does not receive any remuneration from Mubadala in respect of Guinea and has no commercial interest in the Mubadala connection there.”

Mr Blair’s spokesman said: “All the work he does for AGI is pro bono, he has no commercial interest connected with any of the work he does for AGI in these countries and indeed he supports the charity with his own money.”

AGI described Mr Blair as a “leading advocate” for Africa who believed its future depended on a thriving private sector.

The AGI spokesman said: “He [Mr Blair] frequently discusses the development of AGI’s partner countries with other governments, companies, philanthropic foundations and development agencies. He has no commercial interest in any such discussions and all the work he does as patron of AGI is on a pro bono basis.”

Mr Blair first visited Conakry last June and returned there in December to formally agree AGI’s tie-up with Guinea.

AGI is run from Mr Blair’s London headquarters in Grosvenor Square by Kate Gross, a former adviser to Mr Blair when in Downing Street, while its country head in Guinea is Shruti Mehrotra, previously a campaigner with anti-corruption charity Global Witness.

Mr Blair and Mr Conde appear to have struck up a good friendship.

Mr Blair has said he was “attracted by the vision” of Mr Conde, while for his part Mr Conde declared in December: “The first thing that Tony Blair brings is his expertise; second, the experts who he has put at our disposal; third he helps us see that it’s not just enough to define priorities, we need timetables to deliver them.”

A month earlier, Mubadala announced it had signed “agreements to explore new investments and partnerships in strategic sectors such as bauxite, alumina and iron ore”. A press release issued at the time noted the deal would “deliver significant benefits to the economies of both the Republic of Guinea and United Arab Emirates”.

It is not known if Mr Blair was involved in Mubadala’s decision to move into Guinea. Another acquaintance of Mr Blair also has an interest in the country. Oleg Deripaska, oligarch and friend of Lord Mandelson, owns a bauxite mine and a smelting plant in Guinea through his company Rusal, the world’s largest producer of aluminium.

Rusal also held talks in November with Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, over a new bauxite mining project. Separately Mr Blair is an adviser to Mr Koroma.

Mr Blair has previously benefited from Mr Deripaska’s largesse. Another of Mr Blair’s charities — an environmental campaign group called Breaking the Climate Deadlock — was given £300,000 by Mr Deripaska in 2009.

Mr Blair has been linked to Rusal through another of his advisory roles.

In 2009, JP Morgan, an investment bank which pays Mr Blair about £1 million a year, tried to put together a deal in which Rusal would be refinanced through a £3 billion loan from the Libyan Investment Authority.

JP Morgan linked the deal to a trip being made by Mr Blair to Tripoli to see Col Muammar Gaddafi — although Mr Blair denies any knowledge of the JP Morgan negotiations, which later fell through.

A Rusal spokesman said last week: “Tony Blair has never participated in any negotiations regarding Rusal’s business and has never been an adviser or consultant to the company.”

A source added: “They are adamant they have had no dealings with him in Africa.”

Africa is only one part of Mr Blair’s growing empire. Mr Blair — or companies associated with him — also has consultancies with the governments of Kuwait and Kazakhstan, and the Swiss insurance group Zurich Financial Services.

In January is was disclosed that a management company set up by Mr Blair had an income of more than £12 million but paid tax of just £315,000 on profits of more than £1 million.

Mr Blair’s total fortune has been estimated as between £30 million and £40 million, although Mr Blair’s aides deny it is that high.