Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, his wife and their companies have built a £100million property portfolio.
More than half of it, which includes a country pile with stables, a £20m London townhouse, a string of high street properties and an industrial estate, were bought while Mr Zahawi has served as a government minister.
Seven properties bought for more than £10m are mortgage-free, while two more were part-funded by £10m of loans from Mr Zahawi’s wife Lana.
Our probe raises questions about Mr Zahawi’s declaration of interests.
On the day he became a minister in 2018, he quit as a director of investment and consultancy firm Zahawi & Zahawi Limited, and transferred his 50% shareholding to his wife.
Meanwhile she applied to Companies House to change her name on company documents back to her maiden name. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing in relation to this.
Mr Zahawi only names one of her three property firms in his register of interests and is not required to identify individual property investments. There is no suggestion he has breached the Ministerial Code.
The Mirror has found one of Mrs Zahawi’s firms purchased the £3.5m Chunnel industrial estate in Ashford, Kent, by the Eurotunnel train station. It was bought mortgage-free days before the Government secured the trade deal with the EU in December.
Mr Zahawi, 54, had played a leading role in preparing business for Brexit.
Sir Alastair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “In my view, this falls far short of the standards of transparency we expect of ministers.
“It is a potential conflict of interest and should have been fully declared.
“While Mr Zahawi was closely involved in Brexit preparations, Mrs Zahawi was buying an industrial estate close to the Channel Tunnel. Is it likely they didn’t discuss it?
“Mr Zahawi needs to explain how he dealt with this potential conflict of interest. He may not have broken the letter of the rules but appears to have fallen short of the spirit of the code.”
Mr Zahawi, also Business Minister, did not respond to our queries about this investment or his family’s
The Ministerial Code says ministers must “scrupulously avoid any danger of an actual or perceived conflict of interest between their ministerial position and private financial interests”.
The Zahawis personally own five residential properties worth at least £17m – three in London, one in Warwickshire and one in Dubai.
Documents show their constituency home near Warwick, a country house and stable block bought for £875,000 in 2011, was purchased with a loan from offshore company
It is not known who owns Berkford but it is based in the same office as another firm controlled by Mr Zahawi’s dad. Mr Zahawi has said: “I have no involvement with any decision-making process by Berkford Investments.” In the past six years, companies set up by the Zahawis have spent more than £80m on commercial properties.
Most were purchased by Zahawi & Zahawi Limited, the company Mr Zahawi set up with his wife five weeks after he became an MP in 2010.
Since Mr Zahawi was appointed Children’s Minister in 2018, Mrs Zahawi has set up two further companies and continued to buy property.
In the latest list of ministers’ interests, published in May, Mr Zahawi declares his wife “is Director of several limited companies, including Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd, which own commercial and retail property”. The individual firms and properties are not named.
Sir Alastair said Mr Zahawi should have declared all his wife’s firms, adding: “It is another example of the careless way ministers of this government view rules relating to transparency.
“How are we to perceive a conflict of interest if we don’t know where the Zahawis are investing these vast sums? Ministers are expected to show leadership in applying the seven principles of public life. This looks like a total failure of leadership.” In 2000, Mr Zahawi started polling firm YouGov. He only ever held a tiny shareholding.
Instead, 10% of YouGov plc was held by Balshore Investments, run by his dad. It sold YouGov shares for up to £1.5m between 2013 and 2014.
It may have got up to £40m when the remaining shares were sold later.
Tory Mr Zahawi was chief strategy officer for oil firm Gulf Keystone between 2015 and 2017. His monthly salary there rose to £29,000 and his bonuses included one of £253,000.