Waheeda Bashir, who runs a halal meat business in Ilford, said she was left devastated when the bank tried to wind up their firm.
Her Superfresh Halal company took out a £1.25 million 25-year loan in 2006, increasing to £1.4 million in 2007, to expand. Ms Bashir was sold two hedging protection loans which Barclays said were free and would protect her from rising rates, she claimed. Her monthly repayments were just under £8,000.
“Barclays Corporate said it would protect us when interest rates go up and it was a condition of the loan that we had to take this product out,” she said.
“He told us it was free and very beneficial, but there was no choice. I thought they would protect us and we wouldn’t have to worry.
“In 2008 when the interest rate dropped my mortgage stayed at £7,926, but every third month they wanted just under £20,000. We became beggars to keep up with the payments. We sold all my mum’s gold and my sister-in law’s wedding jewellery she had hoped to pass on to her daughters and sons. My nan passed the jewellery on to my mum and I cried the day she had to sell. Mum has nothing left.”
Ms Bashir claimed that when the family tried to break out of the agreement in 2008, Barclays told them it would cost them about £600,000, plus the £1.4 million loan. She is fighting the bank through City-based lawyers Lexlaw, and last week met other alleged hedging victims at a debate in the Commons.
She said: “Our turnover is now £70,000 a year, it used to be £150,000. Barclays also tried to auction our building without us even knowing about it. I haven’t slept a wink since the interest rates went down and every time the payment came up we had to rush my dad to hospital with angina pain. I should be benefiting but Barclays are crippling me. It feels like I’ve got a rope around my neck.”
Barclays said: “We cannot comment on a matter which is currently in litigation save to confirm that we deny the allegations made to date and will be defending the legal action.”