UK: Woman who spent $21m at luxury Harrods store fights wealth order

11 Octobre, 2018, 13:57 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Jailed Azerbaijan banker Jahangir Hajiyev speaking at a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011. Bloomberg

Hajiyeva's husband is Jahangir Hajiyev, the former head of the state bank of Azerbaijan who was sentenced to 15 years in jail after being convicted on fraud and embezzlement charges in 2016, the Associated Press reported.

Her lawyers added that the order "is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offense", according to the AP.

Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, has been named after losing a High Court battle to remain anonymous.

One relates to her £11.5m Knightsbridge home - within walking distance of Harrods where Mrs Hajiyeva was given three separate loyalty cards - which was bought in 2009 by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

"We are delighted that this first case is progressing in court, underlining the effectiveness of unexplained wealth orders in targeting suspicious wealth", said the organization's director, Duncan Hames. The measure protecting her anonymity and other details of the case were lifted Wednesday. She said he had other business interests too, and supplied a 2011 document from a money manager putting her husband's net worth at almost $73 million.

Mr. Hajiyev was IBA's chairman between 2001 and 2015.

The anti-corruption charity Transparency International sent ABC News documents that they say identify £4.4 billion worth of property bought with suspicious money in the U.K. The charity said that there are a total of 86,000 properties owned by companies in secrecy jurisdictions, meaning it is impossible to trace who owns them.

However, a judge agreed to the anonymity order pending an appeal against the ruling.

Official records reveal the couple also own two dedicated bays within the private Harrods auto park and Mrs Hajiyeva also bought a $42m Gulfstream G550 jet.

UK law enforcement believe some £90 billion of illicit finance washes through Britain's financial sector every year. REUTERS
UK law enforcement believe some £90 billion of illicit finance washes through Britain's financial sector every year. REUTERS

"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".

"UWOs should now be used more widely to pursue more of the £4.4 billion worth of suspicious wealth we have identified across the United Kingdom".

Jahangir Hajiyev denies defrauding his bank - but has unsuccessfully appealed against his conviction.

UWOs, which came into effect earlier this year, have been dubbed "McMafia" powers following the popular BBC global crime drama.

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.

What is an Unexplained Wealth Order?

The new Unexplained Wealth Orders are an attempt to force the owners to disclose their wealth.

The U.K. National Crime Agency, which brought the action against Mrs. Hajiyeva, estimates hundreds of billions of pounds of ill-gotten funds flow through the country and its banks each year.

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