Tony Blair
Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the UK, now runs a consultancy firm with a controversial list of clients.Reuters

It isn't often that we get to see just who former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair works for now he's out of front line British politics.

After leaving office in 2007, Blair has set up a number of charities and worked – rather controversially given his role in the Iraq War – as UN Middle East peace envoy.

He also set up Tony Blair Associates, a secretive consultancy group for businesses and governments. And it's through this organisation that he has made millions of pounds, though Blair insists most of what he could have pocketed personally is put back into his charity work.

Little is known about who exactly he advises and for how much. But on the rare occasions his clients surface, they're often unsavoury. Here are just a handful.

Saudi Arabia

It's a state that chops thieves' hands off, beheads apostates, and stones to death adulterers. And it's a state from which billions of dollars flow out into the pockets of terrorists the world over, least of all the Islamic State, the latest fascist nightmare to maraud through the Middle East.

But Saudi Arabia is also a state from which Blair can tap off cash for his consultancy work. So he does, despite its sickening reputation.

According to a Sunday Times report, Blair's firm earns £41,000 a month from PetroSaudi and a 2% commission on new deals that he brokers. This is after he helped broker a deal between the oil giant, which has links to the ruling Saudi royal family and is based in the Cayman Islands tax haven, and the Chinese.

Kazakhstan

A man who pioneered a new form of political communications – or propaganda – under his New Labour administration, with help from his spin doctor Alistair Campbell, Blair knows all about image.

And that's why Tony Blair Associates was hired by the autocratic Kazakhstan government to help improve the country's image in the eyes of the world, and investment-hungry big business in particular. The deal is thought to have been worth £7m.

One of the incidents blighting the reputation of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev was the 2011 slaying of 14 protesters and wounding of 64 others, many of them striking oil workers, by police in the town of Zhanaozen.

Among other things, Blair gave Nazarbayev advice on a speech he was due to give at the University of Cambridge. He urged the president to talk openly about Zhanaozen, but to put it in a favourable wider context about Kazakhstan.

"I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue," wrote Blair in the letter to Nazarbayev, which was leaked to The Telegraph.

"The fact is you have made changes following it; but in any event these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made."

Azerbaijan

The Azeri regime led by President Ilham Aliyev doesn't tolerate dissent. It locks up critical journalists and campaigners in prisons where some have been tortured.

The elections do not meet international standards either, which is why Aliyev received 84.5% of the vote in October 2013 at the last poll.

And Aliyev has been accused of siphoning off the country's wealth, gleaned from its oil and gas resources, into his own pocket.

Human rights organisations revile the Azeri government. But Blair works with it. His consultancy is working with Aliyev and others involved in a major project, including BP, to build a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy.

The pipeline is particularly unpopular in Puglia, Italy, where it ends. So Blair was called in to offer counsel on "reputational, political and societal challenges".