Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Woman Who Spent 16 Million Pounds at Harrods Arrested Under New Powers

An address listed as belonging to Zamira Hajiyeva the wife of the former chairman of Azerbaijan's largest bank Police arrest woman who spent £16m in Harrods
Jeannette Daniel | 10 November, 2018, 04:36

She is under investigation by Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), which in February secured the country's first-ever unexplained wealth order (UWO) to target Hajiyeva's wealth. She faces two charges of embezzlement.

The agency already seized $722,000 worth of jewellery in connection to the Hajiyeva case, which included a $216,000 sapphire and ruby necklace.

The court of appeal heard she made the purchases on three Harrods customer loyalty cards, using 35 credit cards from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, her husband's bank.

Hajiyeva is the first person to be subjected to new crime-fighting powers aimed at sniffing out the endless trails of dirty money that flow through the capital. The UWOs are new powers that allow investigators to demand that people explain how they have acquired property items worth more than 50,000 pounds if their income seems to be insufficient to afford that.

Mrs Hajiyeva was arrested last week by the Metropolitan Police acting on a request from authorities in Azerbaijan.

But her lawyers said she is no "fraudster" - just a "spendthrift" - and was not likely to flee the country because her children were based in the UK.

The court has announced that Hajieva may be released on bail of 500 million pounds.

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Mrs Hajiyeva is at the centre of an inquiry by the National Crime Agency into dirty overseas cash.

However at the High Court on Thursday, the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, granted bail, adding there were no "substantial grounds" to deny it.

Hajiyev's husband Jahangir was jailed in 2016 for embezzling money from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, where he was chairman.

Under the order, the NCA can apply to court to seize property when a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot identify a legitimate source of the funds used for buying it.

The Unexplained Wealth Order is a new law adopted in the United Kingdom aimed at tackling iternational corruption.

"Alarm bells should be ringing when public servants on state salaries start amassing high-end real estate, luxury goods, even a private jet, and a million-pound Tier 1 investment visa", he said.

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