Europe - 10:01, 20 November 2014 Thursday
Anger as ex-NATO head Rasmussen forges 'tax-haven' career

Ex-Secretary General accused of 'pulling a Tony Blair' as he joins network of ex-world leaders earning high sums from lecturing in closed forums

Anger as ex-NATO head Rasmussen forges 'tax-haven' career

World Bulletin/News Desk

Former NATO Secretary General and ex-Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has joined the widely reported exclusive "network" of former world leaders earning a living from lecturing and speaking in closed forums around the world, triggering anger in his home nation.

Rasmussen opened his new business, Rasmussen Global, on October 1, demanding a basic fee of $40,000 for a standard speech.

But Rasmussen's connection with CSA Celebrity Speakers - a company originally founded in the UK in 1983 but which is now reportedly part of the Andorra-based Celebritat Internacional Associats - sparked widespread discontent among Danes as the state bordering Spain and France is well-known as an international tax-haven for rich business people and celebrities.

Former Danish Tax Minister Jonas Dahl told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that Rasmussen's move was a "disgrace" for a former elected minister.

He said: "It is despicable, no less. We are talking about a former Prime Minister and Tax Minister who participates in transactions which seek to bypass national tax-regulations in his own country. 

"He already earns quite good money from his life-long pension from the Danish Parliament ... both current and former politicians should be 'role models' who exemplify good behavior".

'Pulling a Blair'

Danish newspaper Information said Rasmussen had "pulled a Tony Blair" by "throwing himself into the sweet life of a global consultant".

And leading Danish Newspaper BT, which reported the connection to Andorra, said in an editorial that Rasmussen faced a serious moral problem.

BT stated: "Fogh Rasmussen is no longer elected, but still we have a right to pay attention to his moral habits.

"He could never have created his current lucrative business were it not for the democratic system." 

On his new website, rasmussenglobal.com, Rasmussen lists examples of previously held speeches and lectures including: "Our New Europe is born"; Africa – A Continent with a Huge Potential and Partnership in a Globalized World" and "A Declaration of Interdependence".

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has received hundreds of millions of pounds from a mixture of business interests, including advising governments to consultancy work for U.S. investment bank JP Morgan and others, since stepping down from politics in 2007.

His new-found business interests led to much criticism in the U.K. where he was accused of exploiting his former status as the leader of the country as well as being bitterly remembered for his unpopular decision to back former U.S. President George W. Bush's so-called "war on terror" and support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - which was also supported by Rasmussen while being opposed by much of the Danish public.

The former Danish Prime Minister's unpopular support for the conflict in 2003 led to him being nicknamed "Fogh of War" Rasmussen in Europe.

A group of prominent Danes sued him for breaking the country's constitution in 2005, but the case was dismissed by the Danish Supreme Court five years later.

High fees

The Daily Mail reported in 2009 that Tony Blair was the world's highest-paid public speaker commanding fees of up to £6,000-a-minute on the international lecture circuit.

Like Blair, Rasmussen is connected to the Washington Speakers Bureau.

He was in Washington on Tuesday where he was scheduled to be presented as one of this year's winners of the "Distinguished Service" award made by the U.S.-based international organization the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA). 

A spokesman for Rasmussen, Michael Ulveman, told BT: "Anders Fogh Rasmussen is connected to two bureaus, one is Washington Speakers Bureau and the other is Celebrity Speakers Associates (CSA).

"CSA made an approach to us and was selected as it is a prominent and internationally recognized bureau. The two bureaus have set Anders Fogh Rasmussen's fee at $40,000, which they find the correct market price."

After leaving his job as NATO Secretary General on September 30, Fogh Rasmussen proclaimed his new firm Rasmussen Global and stated he was connected to two of the world's leading suppliers of international-level speakers.