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techkenyot.com February 17, 2019


Woman who spent US$21M at Harrods fights U.K. wealth order

11 October 2018, 01:59 | Henrietta Morgan

Harrods department store in London. Alastair Grant The Associated Press

Harrods department store in London. Alastair Grant  The Associated Press

Under powers which came into force in January, the National Crime Agency (NCA) may seize assets if officials believe the owner is a politically exposed person - someone from outside the European Economic Area in a position of power that makes them liable to bribery or corruption.

During the earlier trial the court heard details of the spending habits of Hajiyeva, including that she splashed more than £16m at Harrods over the course of a decade.

Her identity had been shrouded in mystery after the courts agreed to protect her anonymity throughout the UWO process.

What did Ms Hajiyeva spend her money on?

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.

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It prevented her or her husband Jahangir Hajiyev's identification, publication of their country of origin, the bank Mr Hajiyev worked for, and the location of the two properties.

Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of former International Bank of Azerbaijan Chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, was named Wednesday as the recipient of two "unexplained wealth orders" issued by a United Kingdom court in February.

He was subsequently jailed for 15 years over fraud and embezzlement charges. He was also ordered to pay the bank $39 million.

Examples of her big spending, revealed to the court, included £150,000 spent on a single day on Boucheron - a luxury jewellery, perfume and watches brand. Unless her appeal succeeds, she will have to explain further the source of the wealth used to pay for the home and the golf club just outside London.

Now a British court has demanded that Zamira Hajiyeva explain where she got her money from.

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Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said: 'We are delighted that this first case is progressing in court, underlining the effectiveness of Unexplained Wealth Orders in targeting suspicious wealth.

"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".

"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".

Last week the Gazette reported that Mr Justice Supperstone had dismissed an attempt by the woman, known as "Mrs A", to throw out the National Crime Agency's (NCA) application for an unexplained wealth order (UWO). However, documents submitted to the court showed IBA was established as a state-owned bank and the finance ministry's stake was above 50% during Mr. Hajiyev's tenure.

The unexplained wealth order is a new power given to law enforcement agencies this year to tackle suspected corruption.

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Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness. Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.

Investigators from the National Crime Agency believe there are billions of pounds of dirty money invested in British property - but it is nearly impossible to charge the owners with a crime or seize the assets because of a lack of evidence.



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