Azerbaijan bank fraudster’s wife spent 16 million pounds at Harrods, now facing extradition
Mrs Hajiyeva bought luxury goods using credit cards from her husband’s bank. (Reuters: Paul Hackett)
A woman who spent nearly 16 million pounds ($28.8 million) at luxury London department store Harrods has been arrested after being the first person subjected to the UK’s new unexplained wealth laws.
- Ms Hajiyeva’s bail bid was quashed this week
- She spent more than $100,000 pounds at Harrods in one day
- Also bought a $20.7 million home close to the store
Zamira Hajiyeva, who is married to former International Bank of Azerbaijan chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, will have to explain where she got the money for her opulent spending.
Ms Hajiyeva could face deportation under the two embezzlement charges laid against her, London’s Westminster Magistrates Court heard.
She was held in custody after turning herself in to police last week, with the BBC reporting her bail bid was quashed by prosecutors on Tuesday, despite her agreeing to pay 500,000 pounds ($900,000) as a guarantee.
Tweet from the National Crime Agency: The NCA has secured two unexplained wealth orders to investigate assets totalling £22m. These are the first such orders granted and represent the first time the legislation will be tested through the court.
Over the course of a decade, the 55-year-old spent up big at the department store, with a court hearing she bought $180,000 worth of Cartier jewellery.
She also spent $270,000 on goods from Boucheron, a luxury jewellery, watch and perfume brand, as well as a total of $3,200 on wine.
Ms Hajiyeva is subject to an unexplained wealth order, which allows British officials to seize money from people suspected of generating income through corrupt means.
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.
Ms Hajiyeva also bought an $20.7 million five-bedroom home which, according to UK’s The Guardian, was roughly 90 metres from Harrods’ doors.
Mrs Hajiyeva bought a $20.7 million house within walking distance of Harrods. (Reuters: Simon Dawson)
She also purchased a golf course and country club outside London, which was worth $18.9 million.
The UK’s National Crime Agency told Ms Hajiyeva to reveal where the money for those properties came from.
The agency already seized $722,000 worth of jewellery in connection to the Hajiyeva case, which included a $216,000 sapphire and ruby necklace.
Ms Hajiyeva’s husband was sentenced to 15 years in an Azerbaijan jail in 2016, after he was convicted for embezzlement having defrauded the bank of up to $3.9 billion.
The National Crime Agency accused Ms Hajiyeva of fleeing her home country to avoid criminal investigations.
In an earlier report from The Guardian, it was alleged Ms Hajiyeva was one of several family members her husband used to smuggle money out of Azerbaijan.
The Hajiyeva family has denied the allegations.
Ms Hajiyeva’s legal team sought to overturn the Unexplained Wealth Order so she could retain ownership of her properties.
Her being subject to the order, “does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband”, her legal team said in a statement in October.
In court this week, her legal team said she was a “spendthrift”, but was not a “fraudster”.