Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Woman who spent £16m in Harrods can now be identified as Zamira Hajiyeva

A woman who spent £16m at Harrods in a decade can now be identified as Zamira Hajiyeva - the first target for the UK's new anti-corruption law.

Mrs Hajiyeva lost a legal battle to stay anonymous after the media argued the public should know the full facts.

Originally from Azerbaijan, she is the wife of an ex-state banker.

She risks losing her £15m home near the London store 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.
Mrs Hajiyeva's lawyers said the UWO "does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing", by her or her husband. They have applied for permission to appeal against the order.

Who are the couple at the centre of this first action?

Jahangir Hajiyev is the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.
He was jailed in 2016 for 15 years after being convicted of being part of a major fraud and embezzlement that saw tens of millions of pounds disappear from the bank. Judges also ordered him to repay $39m.

Seven years earlier, a company based in the British Virgin Islands paid £11.5m for a large home, just minutes' walk from Harrods in west London. Its current market value is estimated at £15m.

Jahangir Hajiyev
Jahangir Hajiyev - husband of Zamira Hajiyeva

The High Court heard that the ultimate owners were Mrs Hajiyeva and her husband.

In 2013, another company controlled by Mrs Hajiyeva spent more than £10m buying Mill Ride Golf Club in Berkshire, a plush course and estate near Ascot.

The Home Office gave Mrs Hajiyeva permission to live in the UK under a visa scheme for wealthy investors.

Graphic: Items bought by Zamira Hajiyeva.

 Graphic: Items bought by Zamira Hajiyeva.

How much money did the couple bring to the UK?

During a High Court hearing in July, in which the couple were known only as Mr and Mrs A, it was revealed that Mrs Hajiyeva had an enormous amount of disposable income.

Over ten years she spent more than £16m in Harrods - the equivalent of more than £4,000 a day.

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.

The next day, the court heard, she topped up the wine cellar by spending £1,800.

On another occasion she spent £100,000 on Cartier jewellery and £20,000 on luxury men's goods.
Mrs Hajiyeva used three store loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank.

In a ruling upholding the Unexplained Wealth Order, Mr Justice Supperstone said: "I agree with the NCA that this evidence is significant in the light of the reports of Mr A's trial that allegations made against him included abuse of his position at the Bank by issuing credit cards in the names of family members, through which large debts were run up against the Bank."

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

Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said the pressure group was "delighted" at the use of the Unexplained Wealth Order.

BBC     News.

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