In a Landmark case and the first of its kind in the UK, an Azerbaijani woman is to be tried under the ‘Unexplained Wealth Order’ act, also known as ‘Macmafia law’ and is obliged to reveal the money trail, which supports her spending habits. The trial of Azerbaijani wife of Ex-Banker, Zamira Hajiyeva has exposed how she spent millions of her husband’s dirty money in the UK.
Mrs Hajiyeva lost a legal battle to stay anonymous after the media argued the public should know the full facts.
The court of appeal has lifted a veil of secrecy to allow the publication of details of the UK’s first unexplained wealth order (UWO). Court documents made public Tuesday reveal that a woman suspected by British authorities of having ill-gotten wealth spent £600,000 ($760,000) in one day at Harrods and once splashed out £30,000 on chocolates.
Zamira Hajiyeva is the first person subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, which allows British authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption or links to organized crime. It is enforceable until the owners account for how they were acquired.
The wild string of purchases by the wife of Jahangir Hajiyev, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Azerbaijan for fraud, misappropriation of state funds, and the embezzlement of billions from Baku’s treasury are staggering.
A joint report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service issued in May 2016 showed that the Aliyevs, including son Heydar and daughters Leyla and Arzu, owned some $140 million worth of real estate around the world, including approximately $59 million in three luxury properties in London.
As with Hajiyeva’s properties, the Aliyevs’ real estate was owned by offshore companies connected to the Aliyev family, namely Leyla and Arzu, who were also found by an OCCRP reporter to be living at one of the properties, a luxury apartment overlooking Hyde Park.
This is a breakdown of her spending including receipts from Harrods and other places where the wife of Jahangir Hajiyev’s wife enjoyed the spoils of her husband criminal activity.
She was also a regular at the Mandarin Oriental hotel also in Knightsbridge, where she would entertain friends and clients of her husband.
Hajiyeva’s husband, former International Bank of Azerbaijan Chairman, from Baku, Jahangir Hajiyev, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement.
How the money was spent:
Boucheron jewellery: £3.5m
Cartier jewellery: 1.4m
Dennis Basso, US fashion designer: £402,000
Games and stationery: £399,675
Sandwich by Tom: £332,000
Christian Dior: £160,072
Investigators say Hajiyeva spent £16 million at Harrods between 2006 and 2016, using 35 credit cards issued by a bank led by her husband.
Harrods records disclosed at the High Court detail spending that includes £5.75 million at jewellers Boucheron and Cartier, £1 million in Harrods’ toy department and £30,000 at chocolatier Godiva.
Harrods said in a statement that it complied with “the strongest anti-money laundering policies.”
“In this instance, where Harrods cooperated with a wider investigation, there has never been any suggestion that Harrods has operated in any way other than in full compliance with the highest regulatory and legal standards,” it said.
Britain’s National Crime Agency wants to know where Hajiyeva, whose banker husband is in jail in Azerbaijan, got the money to fund her spending and buy two UK properties worth £22 million; one of the houses, which is just around the corner from Harrods, a 5 bedroom mansion, worth £11.5 Million.
She risks losing her £15m home in Knightsbridge and a Berkshire golf course if she fails to explain the source of her wealth to the High Court.
Under the terms of the UK’s first ever Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva, 55, must now provide the National Crime Agency with a clear account of how she and her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, could afford to buy their large home in the exclusive London neighbourhood of Knightsbridge.
Lawyers for Mrs Hajieyva told the High Court that she and her husband are suffering a massive injustice.
“The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her part or that of her husband,” they said in a statement.
“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.”
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. Zamira is also fighting extradition to Azerbaijan and is asking the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in his case.
The NCA said in a statement that it had considered some 140 cases in Britain in which a UWO could be warranted and said it will issue several UWOs in the coming months.
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