Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Woman faces corruption charges after allegedly spending $21M at Harrods

Zamira Hajiyeva
Handout Zamira Hajiyeva Handout
Andrew Wong | 11 October, 2018, 13:56

Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of former International Bank of Azerbaijan Chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, was named Wednesday as the recipient of two "unexplained wealth orders" issued by a United Kingdom court in February.

'The NCA's case is that the UWO is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offence.

Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed banker from Azerbaijan, is being asked to explain her "unexplained wealth" thanks to a new anti-corruption enforcement scheme created to target organized crime figures and others with foreign government ties.

One property, worth around £11.5 million, is in the rich London neighborhood of Knightsbridge, where Harrods is located.

A court has ordered Zamira Hajiyeva to explain where she got the money to also buy a $15m London home close to Harrods and a golf course outside the city.

LONDON-The wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker has been ordered to explain how she and her husband could afford their multimillion-pound London mansion or face having it seized, in the first case using new United Kingdom investigative powers. A, but a court order granting her anonymity was lifted Wednesday.

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"Mrs Hajiyeva has made clear her intention to engage fully in the judicial process, and will present her case to the court as appropriate through her lawyers".

Mrs Hajiyeva used three store loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank.

File photo of Jahangir Hajiyev, chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan at the time, speaking during a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China, Sept. 15, 2011.

Mrs Hajiyeva was issued with the first two unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) to be obtained by the National Crime Agency against two properties worth £22m in total.

How much money did the couple bring to the UK?

Hajiyeva's lawyers appealed against the ruling and asked for the anonymity order to be kept in place. She also owns a golf club and has access to a private jet.

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"They enable the United Kingdom to more effectively target the problem of money-laundering through prime real estate in London and across the United Kingdom, and we will now seek to move further cases to the High Court".

Jahangir Hajiyev denies defrauding his bank - but has unsuccessfully appealed against his conviction. His lawyers say that he fell out with Azerbaijan's corrupt ruling family and paid the price.

During her unsuccessful challenge to the Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva said her husband was a legitimate businessman who had become independently wealthy thanks to a string of successful businesses, before becoming a chairman at the bank.

UWOs, used by the National Crime Agency, were introduced in January in an attempt to crack down on so-called McMafia crime.

What is an Unexplained Wealth Order?

The crime agency argued the lavish spending was a sign the money was ill-gotten.

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She said, "I was motivated by Tanushree, seeing her speaking up I felt that I should also speak". However, she recalled that one night, Alok got 'progressively drunk'.

"Unexplained wealth orders have the potential to significantly reduce the appeal of the United Kingdom as a destination for illicit income".

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