Government Minister Nadhim Zahawi has come under criticism for chasing unpaid commercial rent during the pandemic. His firm Zahawi and Zahawi Ltd owns a number of Commercial properties in Birmingham.
A barber said he was forced to liquidate his business after being hounded by under-fire minister Nadhim Zahawi’s family firm.
Jafar Jahromi, 57, was among small businesses chased for unpaid rent during the pandemic by Zahawi and Zahawi Ltd.
He said he paid commercial rent on time for his salon, Ikon, at a Birmingham city centre complex the Zahawis bought for £12million in 2019 but fell behind when Covid hit.
Mr Jahromi axed the business after being sent a court summons for £35,000 in unpaid commercial rent.
Tory party chairman Mr Zahawi, 55, who is being investigated by PM Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser over his tax payments, co-founded Zahawi and Zahawi but stepped back when he became a minister in 2018 and transferred his 50% stake to his wife. Their two sons are directors.
Mr Jahromi said the family were “only interested in making money, even out of people when they can’t afford to pay”.
He added: “At the time the Tory mantra was to look after small businesses so I thought they’d enable me to get back on my feet.”
Unpaid commercial rent
After receiving the summons Mr Jahromi said he offered £25,000 and asked for a rent cut until he could move out but was refused. Two other traders chased for unpaid commercial rent are also no longer trading.
One was dry cleaning firm owner Deborah Brown, 55, who says she could not pay £5,400 quarterly rent and was chased for £36,000.
David Hawkins of Sherwood Wheatley solicitors, who represents Zahawi and Zahawi Ltd, said the firm “made every effort to reach agreement and commenced proceedings against Mr Jahromi’s company only as a last resort”.
He added: “Mr Jahromi put his company into liquidation leaving the debt due to my client unpaid.
“Mr Zahawi left the company in 2018 and has no involvement.”