Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Woman who spent £16m in Harrods arrested

Harrods department Store in Knightsbridge where Hajiyeva is said to have spent more than £16 million over a decade Police arrest woman who spent £16m in Harrods
Deanna Wagner | 10 November, 2018, 04:34

Zamira Hajiyeva is the subject of the first two unexplained wealth orders (UWO) obtained by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), and has been ordered to explain how she paid for two properties worth £22 million ($29 million) in total, Britain's Press Association reported in October.

LONDON-A woman who spent 16 million pounds ($21 million) at the London luxury department store Harrods over the span of a decade became the first person arrested in the United Kingdom under new investigative powers that target unexplained wealth.

Hajiyeva's husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, who was formerly chair of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence in Azerbaijan for his part in embezzling $138 million.

She faces two charges of embezzlement and has been been held in custody since giving herself up voluntarily last Tuesday.

At a bail hearing, prosecutors argued that she should not be released, claiming she posed a flight risk. The court found that Mrs. Boucheron spent 150,000 pounds to buy jewelry from a luxury brand store and she gave away 1800 pounds to buy wine the next day.

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 orders allow authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption until the owners account for how they were acquired.

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After a brief court appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court she swapped her £15million Knightsbridge mansion for a prison cell as her bid for bail was blocked.

However at the High Court on Thursday, the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, granted bail, adding there were no "substantial grounds" to deny it. Last week, jewellery worth £400,000 was seized from the auction house Christie's in connection with the case.

Ms Hajiyeva also bought an $20.7 million five-bedroom home which, according to UK's The Guardian, was roughly 90 metres from the Harrods doors.

The UWO means she has to explain the origin of her fortune.

Her husband was the chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his resignation in 2015, and was subsequently jailed for fraud and embezzlement.

Her lawyers have said the wealth order "is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offense".